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The video takes Death as a land that can be visited, layered with interviews of people sharing their personal perceptions and experiences. Inspired by the French author Bernard Werber's novel "Les Thanatonautes", in which Death - the last frontier - is navigated and charted, the video combines stories, contemporary dance, Kalaripayatt (South Indian martial art), and original music and soundscape. The interviews of Brisbane locals that are interweaved throughout the video present an amazing view into people's inner-world.

IGNEOUS, 2003 Company-in-Residence at Brisbane Powerhouse, have successfully won the support of Arts Queensland for the project as well as a grant from the Australia-India Council toward the airfare, fee and living-away from home allowances for visiting Indian Martial Arts Master, Vinildas Gurukkal, and support from QPIX and Ausdance Qld.

Suzon Fuks & James Cunningham, IGNEOUS' artistic directors, met Vinildas in India during an Asialink residency in 2000 and brought him twice to Australia since then. While performing in the video, Vinildas also gave well-attended master-classes in Kalaripayatt (traditional South Indian Martial Art) first thing every morning.

Cunningham, choreographer and performer in the video, is a professional dancer who paralysed one arm in a motorbike accident in 1992 and has holistically integrated this difference into his personal movement language. top of page
synopsis
A sacred fire ritual introduces the idea that death is not an end in itself but a separation of life into five elements: space, earth, water, air and fire.
The 4 navigators, Thanatonauts, journey through an imaginary world infused with the dream-like atmosphere of slumber, the weightlessness of water, the suspension of air, and the vibrant consuming energy of fire. They are plunged into worlds turned upside down, patterned with Escher-like surrealism against the concrete certainty of brick, mortar and doorways. Shot in a range of locations including sites in and around the Brisbane Powerhouse, the video traverses seven territories with different atmospheres, colour schemes and moods.
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video

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cast  
Producer
IGNEOUS
Director
Suzon Fuks (Igneous, La Mandragore-Belgium, Ilotopie-France)
Choreographer
James Cunningham (Igneous, Dance North, DV8-London)
in collaboration with Director and Performers
Performers
James Cunningham (see above)
Vinildas Gurukkal (Kalaripayatt master)
Scotia Monkivitch (sacredCOW)
Simon Adams (Playspace Works, London City Ballet)
Director of Photography
Russell Milledge (link to Bonemap)
2nd Camera
Karenza Bowen ("On Cue", "Portrait of Sakhi”)
Editors
Suzon Fuks (see above)
Charlotte Cutting (The Arterial Group)
Composer
Zane Trow (Performance Innovation QUT)
Sound Designer
Andrew Kettle (Small Black Box, Label:KETTLE)
Lighting & Production Manager
Charles Wiles (QPAC, Chunky Move, Sydney Dance Company)
Costume Designer
Sharka Bosakova (visiting Czech artist)
Production Assistant
Sunita Jariwala (Griffith University Post Grad) top of page 

reviews
Thanatonauts demonstrates Igneous’ ability to weave together disparate strands and to make each an essential component in the creation of the final product. As director and editor, Suzon Fuks’ command of the material is clearly apparent. Sound and image seem to breathe, rising and falling, precise and deliberate. The ultimate impact of the piece is achieved through an accumulation of information that works at both emotional and intellectual levels. One of the interviewees relates her experience of lying in the ocean and feeling as if water and air were one. For her, this is a perfect evocation of death. This metaphor of oneness captures Igneous’ marriage of form and content. RealTime, 'Exploring the country of death' - Leah Mercer

(on the work-in-progress showings as a live Performance in 2001)
The work of IGNEOUS has a beautiful sense of passionate involvement whilst still retaining a definite character of dispassionate observation. For me this gave the work a subtle strength, inviting us into involvement in what is potentially an area of powerful human emotion without swamping us with high drama. - Audience Member

The intersection of a post-modern dance aesthetic and South Indian martial arts (particularly in the duet work) shows a respect for the discrete value of each form as well as a deep working knowledge of both. These two apparently disparate styles are integrated into a seamless and contemporary kinetic language. - Professor Cheryl Stock, Head of Dance, Creative Industries Faculty, QUT
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artists CVs
IGNEOUS was established in 97, as a result of a collaboration, which began in 93, between dancer-choreographer James Cunningham and director-choreographer-photographer-multimedia artist Suzon Fuks. They create multimedia dance-based performances for the stage, installation performances in alternative spaces, movement-based videos, and conduct forums, workshops and masterclasses. IGNEOUS’ interests lie in process, interaction, diversity, and challenging values. They utilise artistic skills and clumsiness, true stories, details of daily life, the spectacular and the unspectacular. Works include Body In Question, The Hands Project, Thanatonauts and Fragmentation. Some of these works have been developed during residencies in cultural venues and universities, as their work is based on research and collaboration with other artists and across disciplines.
Body In Question has been presented in Australia, India, Belgium, France, Germany and UK, with further Australasian and European tours planned for 04-05. In 03 they shot the video Thanatonauts, Navigators of Death (due for release on Feb 15, 2004). That year they also began co-productions with 2 companies: Parcours (Belgium), on Penelope, to be performed from June 04, and Figuren Theater Tuebingen (Germany), on liquid skin to be performed from 05. Early 03, they conducted a professional development in networked and telematic performance. As company-in-residence at Brisbane Powerhouse (01-03) they initiated and facilitated the Movement Video Laboratory for professional artists. In 02, they made visual installations for the companies Parcours and Des Airs (Belgium) and sacredCOW (Brisbane).
In 99-00 they spent 3 months in India where they started working with South Indian martial artist Vinildas Gurukkal, who performs in the video Thanatonauts, Navigators of Death. top of page

JAMES CUNNINGHAM
attained an Advanced Certificate in Performance (Dance) from the Centre for the Performing arts, Adelaide (87-88). He was a performer for Dance North (89-91) and has worked with contemporary dance choreographers Cheryl Stock, Graeme Watson, Nanette Hassell, Chrissie Parrott, Jane Pirani, Sally Chance and Lloyd Newson. In 1999 he received an Emerging Artist’s grant, as a choreographer, for the Australia Council through Ausdance. In 2000 he performed with internationally renowned DV8 Physical Theatre in a work that was commissioned for the Olympic Arts Festival in Sydney and was also performed in London and Hong Kong.
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SUZON FUKS is originally from Belgium, and has been directing for the stage and screen for 18 years around the world. Her early training was in dance, theatre and music at Lilian Lambert Academy, Brussels (69-76) and she completed a Visual Arts Masters degree (79-84) at La Cambre, Brussels. She has made award-winning films and solo performance shows, and toured internationally with the European performance companies La Mandragore (87-90) and Ilotopie (92). Her photographic exhibition Keeping the Light has been shown in 7 major cities throughout the world. The National Library of Australia and the State Library of NSW have acquired her documentary photographs. Suzon is fluent in both French and English.
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VINILDAS GURUKKAL Born in India in 1975, Vinildas is a master in Kalaripayatt & Murai, Massage Therapy, Panchakarma treatment, Thatwachintha, Kalarimarma, Pranayama, and Meditation. He has studied the traditional dance form Bharathanatyam, Carnatic classical music, Judo, Guitar and Edakka percussion. He has been running Shivashakthi Kalarikshetram (his Kalaripayatt training centre) since 1997 in Cochin. He collaborated on "Cheating Death" performance and video with James Cunningham and Suzon Fuks (Dec 2000-Feb 2001). In Sep-Oct 2001 and Sep 2003 he spent 6 weeks with IGNEOUS in residence at Brisbane Powerhouse giving Kalaripayatt master classes and developing Thanatonauts.
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SCOTIA MONKIVITCH is a choreographer, performer, cultural arts-worker & educator working with a diverse range of community groups & people with specific needs. She has more than 10 years experience in the devising, development & co-ordination of community projects & theatrical productions in Australia & internationally. She is currently a member of 'sacred COW', a 3-women vocal & movement based theatre group; Co-Director of 'Helicon', a Queensland based national company working towards the development of community dance practice; was Executive Producer of the Magdalena Australia International Women's Festival, & formerly the Project Manager for Access Arts Inc. She holds a Diploma of Education (Primary) from Aquinas College Victoria & a Bachelor of Arts (Dance) from Queensland University of Technology.
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SIMON ADAMS is an independent dance artist, choreographer and teacher based in Northern Rivers. Currently working with Spaghetti Circus & Gradient Street Theatre. He trained in London & worked throughout Europe and America as a professional soloist dancer including works with London City Ballet. Since settled in Byron Bay, Simon has created several dance theatre companies including Playspace Works. His aim is to build a supportive community for the growth of dance and the role it plays in our society. top of page

RUSSELL MILLEDGE is principal design artist & Co-artistic director with the contemporary art group ‘Bonemap’ that has toured visual, media and performing arts projects throughout Australia and parts of Asia since its inception in 1999. As a principal & collaborating artist Russell has contributed to many projects including presentations at: the Adelaide Fringe & Adelaide Festival, The Performance Space – Sydney as well as many site-specific & media based projects & partnerships. His visual art practice is represented in the collections of The Queensland Art Gallery & Cairns Regional Gallery amongst others. He is well known for his involvement with cultural industry infrastructure & policy development in Far North Queensland.
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ZANE TROW Composer - Associate Professor – Performance Innovation - Creative Industries – Queensland University of Technology - Current work spans Performance Innovation research and public oerformance projects. Electronica, sound and music includes installations for the Centre for Contemporary Photography and the Melbourne International Arts Festival, synthesizers, devices & delays for George Telek (an ARIA award winning CD). Work as a curator in live art and new media has involved projects with the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of NSW, the Victorian Arts Centre, QUT, RMIT University, Scienceworks and the Sydney City Council, commissions and touring projects with UK, Switzerland, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and India. z.trow@qut.edu.au; www.maap.org.au -
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ANDREW KETTLE is a Brisbane sound artist, event organiser highlighting experimental musicians (Deviations 1998-1999, Ambient Explosions 1999-2000, Small Black Box 2001- ) & Brisbane co-ordinator for touring experimental musicians (Peeled Hearts Paste [Sydney], Simon Wickham-Smith [U.K.], Cat Hope [Perth]). He is developer of Label:KETTLE, an experimental music recording project, a collaborator with other artists, (Poota, Vacuum Pact, A short Journey, SEO, Clinton Green, Hutt River Space Agency), and a psyh-ambient / Chill / Experimental DJ. His recording material dates to 1993, with several CD releases & numerous tracks on various artist compilations (Serbsky Institute, ABC music, Vibragun, Last Chance Gasp, Phat Lips, Overt, etc), his work, heavily influenced by alchemy, is riddled with transmutive processes and experiential work in the natural world.
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CHARLOTTE CUTTING is a video editor who works with independent artists / filmmakers, arts organisations & corporate production companies on documentaries, short films, installation / performance visuals & promotional video works: Expressions Dance Company (“Flight” 2003), Vanessa Mafe (“Listening to People Move” 2002), Igneous (“Thanatonauts” 2001), Dynamic Media, etc. She has worked extensively as an editor with The Arterial Group on projects including TRACK (2003) and ELEKTROSONIC (2001) for which she was also production assistant. She has coordinated events & short course programs for the Queensland branch of the Australian Film Television & Radio School.
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KARENZA BOWEN is an independent filmmaker in Brisbane & remote areas of Queensland.
Her first short film "On Cue” was awarded runner up in the Brisbane Fast Film Competition & then won Best Script at the New Filmmakers Awards. In 2003, she has produced several other short films & a documentary “Portrait of Sakhi”, which also received an award at a national Human Rights film festival. She is currently secretary of QDOX (Queensland Documentary Association) & works as a video production mentor for community groups in Brisbane's north. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Film & Television at the Queensland University of Technology in 2000.
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igneous - chronology of achievement
2004-2005
Up-coming fellowship residency at the Australian Choreographic Centre, Canberra.
2004
15 February, screening of “THANATONAUTS, Navigators of Death” in the Visy Theatre at the Brisbane Powerhouse
From March to end of November, in Europe: touring BODY IN QUESTION and making 2 new productions: “liquid skin” with German company Figuren Theater Tuebingen & Belgian sound artist Bobvan, and “PENELOPE” with Belgian company Parcours / Félicette Chazerand
2003
Company-in-residence at Brisbane Powerhouse
Research & experimentation in networked performance, mentored by Keith Armstrong, funded by the New Media Arts Board, Australia Council for the Arts
Began the collaboration for “PENELOPE” & participated in a panel about multimedia/hybrid arts during the Magdalena Festival Australia
“BODY IN QUESTION” presented in festivals in Paris and Magdeburg (Germany) supported by DFAT
Make your Move dance classes held weekly at Brisbane Powerhouse
Movement Video Labs for professional artists: 2 at Brisbane Powerhouse, 1 in Lismore
Kalaripayatt master-classes with Vinildas Gurukkal on his second visit to Australia supported by Australia-India Council, Arts Queensland and Ausdance Qld
The shooting of “THANATONAUTS, Navigators of Death”, a screen-based video supported by Brisbane Powerhouse, Australia-India Council, Arts Queensland and QPIX
2002
5-week residency at Dance 4, Nottingham UK, working with renowned dance film artist Rob Tannion
“Body in Question” in Visions International Festival of Visual Performance, Brighton, UK
2001
6-week residency at Brisbane Powerhouse, collaborating with South Indian martial artist
“Body in Question” in D'ici et d'Ailleurs Festival, Brussels, Belgium
2000
“The Hands Project” - an inter-generational, site-specific performance with a cast of seventeen performers spanning three generations.
“Body in Question” in Awakenings Festival, Horsham, Victoria and High Beam Festival, Adelaide
1999
Premiere “Body in Question” in Lismore (NSW), tours to Swan Hill, Echuca & Portland & Melbourne (VIC)
Three month Asialink Residency in South India
“Cheating Death” - a dance video made in Cochin and Chennai, India
1998
“Doctor’s Verdict” for Sydney Fringe (Jan 98)
1997
“Awakening “ for Bodies (Sep 97), and Building Dance, Montreal (June 97)
“Micro-Macro “ for Dance on the Edge (May 97)
“Crash “ for Sydney Fringe (Feb 97)
“Keeping The Light” premiere at The Great Synagogue Museum, Sydney - a photographic exhibition touring seven major cities of the world between 1997 and 2001
1994
“Moving”, multimedia performance with musical ensemble Korzmotion Krunk, for TAP Gallery, Sydney
“From the Earth to the Sky” - a dance video shot in Kerala, India
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contact

James Cunningham & Suzon Fuks, artistic directors
3/27 Waverley St - Annerley - QLD 4103 - Australia
Tel:+61-7-3255 8355 - Mob:+61-407-437 355

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