The Newcastle Art Gallery Youth Advisory Group acknowledges the Awabakal and Worimi people as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and live, and pay our deepest respects to Elders past, present and future. The Youth Advisory Group is dedicated to honouring the culture and traditions of our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through the visual arts.



Interview Mikayla Nangle

Words By: Molly McNeil
Interview Mikayla Nangle

Mikayla Nangle is a freelance dancer and choreographer who is stepping into the vast and ever-evolving landscape of digital practice. Commissioned for This is Not Art (TiNA) in October 2021, Nangle's work In the Absence, a choice is a choose your own dance adventure comprised of 18 individual videos displayed and navigated online. As a first foray into the digital realm, Nangle’s work displays the expansive potential of video and new media when coupled with existing practices – here, dance.

"You can’t hold onto any moments in dance and I think people can feel disconnected from that – but this work was a way to get the audience to engage; you can choose what goes on here but you have to think through it".

Despite the fear and imposter syndrome that often accompanies branching into a new medium, Nangle was excited to embark on the project. Working with video for the first time inevitably presented a number of technical and logistical challenges; the multifaceted nature of digital works often begets that the artist takes on (and therefore is required to learn or else outsource) a huge array of skills, from storyboarding to videography, performance, lighting design, web design and administration.

Video and new media art is, in this way, inherently collaborative – something Nangle finds to be synchronous with the dance methodologies of ‘improvising, tasking, building… it all translates really well to working with other artists’.

In order to strike a balance between authenticity of representation and production value, Nangle created 18 paired back videos­ of performances for In the Absence, a choice, providing the viewer with their own agency to explore combinations of performances, each leading to the next.

Tapping into the tension between freedom and constraint, the work presents a subject whose movements are manipulated by the viewer, merging the boundaries between performance, documentation and interactivity.

“What happens to performative movement when the audience cannot attend the theatre? By embracing permanence and leaving behind temporal realities, this work reimagines the concept of ‘choose-your-own-adventure’. The audience experiences a performance of their own design within their personal environments. Nothing here is shared. The mover exists as an oscillating loop bound forever to a technological realm, endlessly manipulated by others’ desires. Notions of overwhelming freedom woven amongst relentless limitations. The mover explores each frame anew. The viewers have become the directors. The mover’s control is seemingly surrendered.” (Source)

The skills developed in Nangle's In the Absence, a choice were further honed by her participation in Catapult Dance's mixed media exhibition SCAR at The Lock-up. Then, in February 2022, Nangle's second video piece We fell, was named as the overall winner of the Hunter Emerging Art Prize 2021. You can watch We fell here.

Nangle is only just beginning to stretch her wings, but if her first few flights are anything to go by, she's well on her way to becoming and exemplary multidisciplinary artist.