Mahla Bird makes a habit of testing research subjects, sewing sequins to things, hanging from her toes, and giving neuroscience talks at punk gigs.
Mahla Bird lives and practices between two coexisting worlds - art and science, with accomplishments across a vast array of independent formats, and multidisciplinary works bridging the gaps between them. Her work blurs the line between audience and test subject, exploring a curious space that is both ritualistic and scientific, informative and disruptive.
Mahla first established herself as a practicing scientist by day at 19, releasing her first published work in The Encyclopaedia of Social and Behavioural Sciences. She currently works in a neuroscience research lab, with this scientific work greatly informing her arts practice.
Through her Punk Science presentations (featuring neuro-responsive projections based on live EEG from her brain), she unshackles a scientific lens from the larger academic institution, highlighting the potential of biofeedback as a source of artistic development. These presentations have featured at Various Art Salons 2015-17, The Village Festival 2016, and numerous Wetlands Listening Room Presents events.
Her work also spans into more conventional performance, with her personalised iteration of Yoko Ono’s Cut Piece headlining The Church Space at Found Festival 2015. As part of Found Mahla undertook ideation, venue design, as well as programming and production of this space. Other experience in events have included a range of production and stage management roles, notably including for Hot Brown Bitch Burlesque (precursor to the multi-award-winning Hot Brown Honey).
Since 2011 she has trained extensively in various circus artforms, specialising in static trapeze, but also training across tissu, rope, acrobalance and contortion. In 2016 she began showcasing her work at the circus hub of Emerald City (run by Upswing Arts), as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
More recent projects continue her penchant for exploration across many formats, working as Assistant Director and Producer on short film The Ritual (2017), alongside creator and Director Kim Boekbinder and DOP Brett Harrison. She has also exhibited work in and performed as part of HIDDEN AGENDA curated by Craft Cartel and FOUND.
Currently in development, Mahla was recently awarded the Still I Rise program through the Women’s Circus, in order to develop her forthcoming work KillJoy, where alongside a close team made up of performers Cat Scobie and Amy Broomhall, and writer/producer Emmeline Kildea, she will invite audiences behind the curtain to disrupt fantasies of femininity, and explore secret stories and experiences women share with each other.
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