Rethinking artist-run initiatives and place

According to Aristotle, “Place is prior to all things.”

“In the past three centuries in the West – the period of “modernity” – place has come to be not only neglected but actively suppressed. Owing to the triumph of the natural and social sciences in this same period, any serious talk of place has been regarded as regressive or trivial. A discourse has emerged whose exclusive cosmological foci are Time and Space…For an entire epoch, place has been regarded as an impoverished second cousin of Time and Space, those two colossal cosmic partners that tower over modernity.”

Edward Casey, Getting Back into Place: Toward a Renewed Understanding of the Place World.





Fallen@Docklands by artist Annee Miron is a site specfic participatory artwork activated at Melbourne Docklands in April 2016.


“It originated as part of Confluence a project intiated by The Front – Deb Bain- King and jointly produced with Wynter Projects – Chantal Wynter. Artists were invited to respond to an aspect of Melbourne Docklands. I researched the pier posts and where they came from.  I found there were five East Gippsland tree species and painted their colours onto found cardboard boxes and wove them into a canopy.  The boxes themselves are remnants of today’s trade to this geographical place. The ghost forest canopy was activated by myself and many others by lifting and moving underneath it..” Annee Miron.


To see a short video of the performance click here.

As one of the many participants in the performance to activate the “ghost forest canopy” I found it very moving. By activating the canopy of a once magnificent forest, we had the opportunity to reflect on the invisible and hidden histories of the land we live on. The work became an act of memory and homage. By holding the canopy above our heads we paid homage and respect to the forests and trees and especially to the Aboriginal people who cared for those forests. As Annee reminds us, the wooden pier posts were once trees taken from magnificent forests in East Gippsland – forests that once would have been cared for by the traditional owners.

As Bruce Pascoe teaches us in Dark Emu, Aboriginal people managed the land across Australia with great sophistication, including forest management.  In her research Annee found the trees were sourced from five different species: yellow stringy bark, yellow box, blue box, grey box and iron bark.  Holding up the cardboard canopy that Annee had created, using the colours from the flowers and leaves of those five different tree species and with the filtered light dappling across our bodies, we couldn’t help but remember in that very physical, yet gentle act that we are always standing on aboriginal land and that land and country has not been ceded.

Yet as Bruce Pascoe writes, “Accepting the full history of the country has the benefit of discovering a whole new level of knowledge about sustainable harvests.”


@sawtoothers is an experiment launched by Sawtooth ARI. It is a contemporary art experiment where guest artists and curators are invited to create a visual dialogue about contemporary art, on Instagram. I have been invited to be a guest @sawtoothers from 11 – 25 November, 2016.



img_5566David Cross, Will Foster, Timothy Moore, Nuraini Juliastuti, Amy Spiers

On Wednesday 16 November, Bus Projects presented a discussion on the urgency of socially-engaged practice, as part of their ongoing ‘Systems of Solidarity’ series.

Co-chaired by Professor David Cross and Melbourne based artist Amy Spiers and featuring Will Foster (A Centre for Everything), Nuraini Juliastuti (KUNCI), Vanessa Kwan (Grunt Gallery), Timothy Moore (Sibling), and Tien Wei Woon (Post Museum).

“The conscious convergence of art, publics and politics in artists’ practices and organisational structures, represents the most potent argument for arts relevance in a globalised society. In a time of increasing international recognition of the importance of socially engaged and community focused art practices, Bus Projects brings together a discussion on the many manifestations of such practice in response to the closure of the Centre for Cultural Partnerships at the Victorian College of the Arts.

It is timely to gather together organisations, researchers, and practitioners who are doing exemplary work in this space to knowledge-share with our local audience and to reflect on the crucial importance of community/socially engaged art practice in the current globalised arts ecology.” from Bus Projects website.

Note: On September, 28, Professor Barry Conynghim, Dean of the Faculty of the Victorian College of the Arts and MCM announced that The Centre for Cultural Partnerships at VCA  will cease offerings in all programs and discontinue operations managed at the Centre for Cultural Partnerships (CCP) by the end of the year – December 31, 2016.

Vale CCP!



BARI Festival 2016

webBrisbane Artist-Run Initiative Festival or BARI is a biennial event taking place across Brisbane. This year it ran from 6–23 October, 2016.  I was only able to visit during the last 4 days of the Festival and lucky enough to catch dHANAMENTA 2, a one day event and part of The Walls Art Space, offsite program and Sunday Sesh (more later).  BARI is a unique event reflecting the unique and special  ARI scene in Brisbane. It was intense!

Here’s a quote from the opening words of the co-directors Jaclyn Bates and David Don from the BARI program:
“Brisbane has an incredibly unique ARI scene. Unlike other cities, the majority of artist run groups turn to ephemeral sites of display. The space under a Queenslander, a suburban garage, a garden shed, the back of a rental truck are all reimagined for one night shows. The act of going to an exhibition becomes an integral part of the experience, the apprehension of entering an intimate space made public, the social interaction, the ebb and flow of the work itself. Stepping outside of ideas of where and what contemporary art should be.”

This year BARI featured 20 events, featuring over 50 artists. It was a real buzz. You can follow my BARI experience on Instagram @ari.experience

Restructure: on qualitative modes of culture & knowledge production

Announcing the publication of the E-book Re-structure conference proceedings (edited by J.H. Brüggemeier & H. Davies) published by Unlikely Journal for Creative Arts

Featuring participants from performance, fashion, creative arts, gaming, media and community intervention, the Re-structure conference explored both broader sustainable strategies as well as “clever partial solutions” to cultural and knowledge production in a post-public sector environment.

Authors included Stephen Healy, Maria Miranda, Grace McQuilten and Anthony White, Jon Hawkes, Katharine McKinnon, Vic McEwan and Joan Staples.


The Re-structure conference in 2014 looked at the current state of the arts, and considered alternative modes of culture and knowledge production within times of shrinking public expenditures. Featuring participants from performance, fashion, creative arts, gaming, media and community intervention, the event explores both broader sustainable strategies as well as “clever partial solutions” to cultural and knowledge production in a “post-public” sector environment.

In seeking alternatives, the Re-structure conference looked to the proliferation of smaller scale community economies worldwide, in both on and offline environments, and to the modes of cultural production and knowledge exchange with other sectors such as environmental NGOs. We explain this brief history to establish an important context – to inform the reader that the essays collected together here were written under the shadow of the extraordinary changes proposed by Brandis and Abbott.



WHEN: 9.30am – 4.30pm  – 27 May 2016

COST: $15–$44

A Conversation With Australia’s Independent Art Sector 

Venue: Giant Dwarf, Redfern

To download the Program Agenda click here. To purchase event tickets please click here.

Independent art spaces operate at the intersection of community, culture and business. We Run This will feature speakers from areas of urban planning, regulation, policy advocacy, arts and academia from across the country to discuss ideas that have led to empowering communities to prosper culturally and economically.

Developing in prominence in the built environments of inner city and regional locations, are independent creative spaces the future of the prosperous community?

Speakers include John O’Callaghan (JOC Consulting), Alex Bowen (City of Sydney), Maria Miranda (research fellow from the University of Melbourne, writing on The Cultural Economy of Artist-Run Initiatives in Australia) and representatives from Alaska Projects, Boomalli, First Draft, Sawtooth ARI, M16, Watch This Space and Project Contemporary. 

We Run This is co-presented by 107 Projects and the National Association for the Visual Arts; and supported by SAMAG (Sydney Arts Management Advisory Group).

This event is contributing to Vivid Sydney 2016. For more information please click here.
To purchase event tickets please click here.

After Party Event at 107 Projects – 4.30pm onwards. Mingle and enjoy a Mountain Goat beer on us (for conference attendees) whilst immersing yourself in an interactive artwork by Sydney based light and video designer, Toby K with sound artist Rob Hughes. PLUS The Forest Unyielding, an installation exhibition and performance (7pm) comprising dance, film, vision and sound by some of Sydney’s most exciting contemporary artists. The After Party is free for the public to attend as well.