Semi Permanent Will Return to Sydney for Vivid 2023 with a Stacked Creativity and Design Program

This year's speakers include academic and disability activist Sinéad Burke, filmmaker and architect Liam Young, and Iranian American designer FISK founder Bijan Berahim.
Sarah Ward
Published on February 16, 2023

If it involves design and creativity — whether as graphics and illustration, via filmmaking and animation, in photography and visual data, through writing and publishing, in products and advertising, or as part of spatial and motion design — odds are that you'll find it at Semi Permanent. The southern hemisphere's biggest and longest-running festival dedicated to all of the above, it brings together the brightest minds it can find to unpack its chosen topics. And, in 2023, it'll do just that in Sydney again.

This fest has spanned more than 50 events in 13 cities with 800-plus speakers and over 300,000 attendees over its past two decades, and it's back this year as part of Vivid Sydney's lineup. Don't just wander around the Harbour City soaking in the lit-up gardens, gigs and Vivid's first-ever food fest come May and June — hit up Semi Permanent to ponder what goes into making Vivid so stunning, as well as the latest trends and themes in design and creativity overall.

Taking place at Sydney's Carriageworks for three days between Wednesday, May 31–Friday, June 2, Semi Permanent 2023 features a stacked lineup of speakers, including Irish writer, academic and disability activist Sinéad Burke, who'll explore accessibility — and filmmaker and architect Liam Young, who focuses on the blurring boundaries between film, fiction, design, and storytelling, especially when it comes to musing on what cities will look like in the future. Plus, journalist, writer, artist and producer Mona Chalabi will dive into how data helps us understand the world, while Iranian American designer FISK founder Bijan Berahim is known for highlighting culture, community and commerce via art and design.

Also on the bill: Vogue India's Head of Editorial Content Megha Kapoor, Indigital founder Mikaela Jade, Indigenous artist and poet Jazz Money, and artist, illustrator and animator Chris Yee. Film and TV designer and director Filipe Carvalho joins the international contingent, with the Australian Centre for Moving Image's Seb Chan, Gold Coast artist and screenwriter Samuel Leighton-Dore, motion graphics artist's Mikaela Stafford and photographer and performer Wani Toaishara helping fill out the local crew alongside artist and illustrator Jordy van den Nieuwendijk, designer and artist Evi. O and Semi Permanent 2023's host Namila Benson.

That packed roster of talent will examine the theme of 'reformation', a particularly topical subject given the events of the past few years. "We thought the world would seek to build itself back as it was, but it's increasingly clear that our collective future cannot—nor should not—look anything like its past," notes Semi Permanent's Global Creative Director Mitchell Oakley Smith.

"We live amidst a once-in-a-generation chance to write past wrongs, reform seemingly immutable practices, and redesign the world in a shape we'd like to see."

As always, Semi Permanent will span keynote talks, panels, Q&As and workshops, as well as exhibitions, demonstrations and installations. This year, expect those sessions to touch upon futurism, feminism, First Nations culture and accessibility alongside  sustainability, diversity, equity and inclusion, all while examining Web3's borderless promises, how remote work helps employees claim back their time, and the dismantling of industrial hierarchies and traditions.

"In its place, something new is beginning to emerge: new creative languages, new ways to communicate, to create, organise, disrupt, rebuild. New ways to speak, hear, interpret, understand, and connect. Less barriers to entry, and more possibility for brilliance. With all the chips seemingly thrown in the air — which of these do we catch, and which do we let go?," says Oakley Smith.

Semi Permanent 2023 will run from Wednesday, May 31–Friday, June 2 at Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh, Sydney. For more information or to buy tickets, head to the Semi Permanent website.

Published on February 16, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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