Friday, August 12, 2016

Clutch Collective - Australian Artist-Runs Now




Q. What, who, when, why and where is Clutch Collective?

A. CLUTCH Collective is a Brisbane-based ARI that runs one night shows in the back of a 3 ton truck. We are Holly Bates, Naomi Blacklock, Tayla Haggarty and Annie Macindoe. Our exhibition program runs shows each month. Why? Because we can, because we set out with an ambition to do something exciting, something other than another Brisbane house ARI, and we think it’s working, so why not? Where? Anywhere (kind of). We have no fixed location and each of our shows has been at a different site – from residential backyards, driveways and apartment blocks to public parks…

Q. Tell me about the fabulous name of your collective, it’s mechanical moniker, and tell me a bit about you too?

A. CLUTCH Collective was named following extensive synonym searching around concepts of feminism and female anatomy. The idea of the truck came after the establishment of our name and turned out to be a rather serendipitous and perfect match for the term CLUTCH – relating also to the mechanics of a vehicle. And here’s a bit about each of our creative practices;

Naomi Blacklock is a current PhD candidate who primarily works with sound art and objects as a way to enact the contemporary witch figure through ritualised installations in order to fragment and examine the positive possibilities of the fury, superstitions, knowledge, and agency of wild women archetypes.

Annie Macindoe is currently undertaking a Master of Fine Arts and is interested in the use of text and moving image in her work. She uses text and video installation to explore themes of personal narrative, loss and trauma, and the inherent difficulty of articulating these experiences.

Holly Bates uses mediums such as painting, installation, performance and video to challenge pre-conceived notions of female sexuality depicted by patriarchal culture. Holly also works together with Tayla as the collaborative art practice Parallel Park.

The focus of Parallel Park is concentrated on playfully exploring the external influences that impact lesbian sexuality and the intricacies of the artist’s romantic relationship. The collaboration heavily employs play as process, which takes form through found objects, performance, video and installation.

Tayla Haggarty’s practice explores the complex question of what constitutes a lesbian feminist artwork, and more specifically, how one can effectively represent the personal lesbian erotic. These investigations take form through installation, sculpture and durational performance.

Q. Why an artist-run collective?

A. As well as being practicing artists and regular attendees of and exhibitors at local art events, artist-runs, we started CLUTCH because we saw an opportunity to contribute to the Brisbane ARI scene in a new and innovative way. We wanted to challenge ourselves and our artists to create new works that effectively utilize the space of the truck, which has certain limitations that other spaces don’t have. For example, we can’t screw directly into or attach anything to the body of the truck, which forces artists and ourselves as facilitators to think literally outside of the box, to find creative solutions and new ways of presenting works that respond directly to the limitations and new opportunities that a space like this presents. I guess you could say that CLUTCH is inspired by the work we see around us, our peers and those we look up to as artists, curators and directors of ARIs past and present. We have taken this inspiration and turned it into a drive, both literally and figuratively, towards invigorating the Brisbane ARI scene with an alternative, unconventional and experimental approach to exhibiting.

Q. Tell me about Clutch Collective artist-run projects so far? What are some memorable moments?

A. As well as being involved in the HOMEGROUND project at Boxcopy recently, which was a really important project for us in terms of cementing our emergence in the Brisbane ARI scene, we have hosted four shows that have all been exciting, moving, sensitive, beautiful, funny, inventive and outstanding in their own way.

Our first show, which presented works by Callum McGrath, comprising a lot of memorable moments. Namely it was the first time that we had coordinated the hiring, driving and successful delivery of the truck from one side of Brisbane to the other to park at the location of the show – an effort that was justifiably awarded with applause many sighs of relief. On top of that, we had a total time of less than one and a half hours to install the work which was pulled off perfectly in time for the due start of the show (credit to the artist’s prime organization skills). The show presented two highly saturated videos projected onto screens built to fit the exact dimensions of the truck. The pink glow from the work could be seen from quite a distance as the audience approached the truck down a long driveway. It was a really beautiful and ideal way to kick of our exhibition program for the year.

It also confirmed to us that our ambition to present shows in the back of a truck was not out of the scope of what is possible even though it might’ve seemed so at times.

Another memorable moment for CLUTCH was when we presented Louise Bennett’s site-specific video work ‘The Sun From Your Past’. It stood out because it was the first time we fully utilized the mobile attribute of the truck and took it out of a residential setting and into a public park location. Parked adjacent to the Government House property at Norman Buchan Park in Bardon, the somewhat isolated and nature-surrounded site of the show enhanced the ability for the light of the projected video work to travel out of the truck and contrast against the dark landscape. There were common challenges that came with being offsite such as power access and limitations to beverages being served, but this all ended up working out to strengthen the experience of the show and it’s site-specific nature.

Q. Tell me a wee bit more about the Clutch three tonner's most recent exhibit?

A. CLUTCH most recently presented the work of Brisbane-based duo SHATRICK (Shannon Tonkin and Patrick Zaia). The truck was located in a backyard of a friend’s house, which was convenient for the set up of the work and also allowed for alcohol consumption and a sizeable crowd. The work, GORGEus, saw SHATRICK sat atop a paper-mache feast. A table ran the length of the truck and was cluttered with all kinds of sculpted paper-mache food/cutlery/dish/creature hybrids. The medieval setting was confirmed by the constant rhythm of a melodic, repetitive and almost sinister soundtrack. Banners were hung from the inside frame of the truck and paper-mache chairs with faces were scattered across the yard.

If the feast vibe wasn’t already obvious to the audience – it only took a proper look into the back of the truck to see what the work was really about. SHATRICK positioned themselves at the head of the table – overlooking their creations – with baked dough-like bras and strapped on bellies. The bellies, filled with all kinds of ingredients, became the substance that enabled the performance, which SHATRICK devoured consistently from each other’s bodies for the duration of the show. The artists presented a work that was equally as seductive as it was repulsive – it was amazing to stand back and watch a constant crowd of people enter the truck, look intently at the smaller objects on the table, and almost cower away as they approached the performers at such an intimate proximity. The tension however was inevitably broken by a few brave viewers/participants who decided to jump right in and sample the delicacies for themselves.




Q. The seems to be an abundance of artist-runs unfolding/generating in Brisbane this year, why so?

A. This is very true! It seems as if a current of change has been brewing – perhaps something about moving from the art-saturated environment of our university institutions out into the everyday world for the most part is what inspired a variety of Brisbane ARIs this year, largely run by university graduates, emerging onto the scene in 2016. We are close friends with many of our fellow ARI directors, which has been mutually beneficial in terms of cross-promoting clashing exhibitions and literally working alongside other ARIs through being part of the accumulative HOMEGROUND project at Boxcopy this year.

On top of this, as artists we have each presented works with multiple other Brisbane ARIs. Collectively, as well as in group and solo exhibitions, the CLUTCH directors have had past exhibitions/are due to exhibit at the following Brisbane ARIs: Boxcopy, Cut Thumb, The Laundry Artspace, FAKE Estate, Kunstbunker, In Residence, ORAL ARI and Aggregate Projects. So obviously we have close ties to the following ARIs but we are also very excited to see even more new initiatives popping up around Brisbane and can’t wait to see how their spaces and exhibition programs develop.

We would, however, like to give a special mention to FAKE Estate, who, unknowingly, we had organised our most recent exhibition on the same night as theirs. FAKE Estate jumped right on board with cross-promotion even without a conversation about it. Because of the close location of the shows, as directors we were able to attend each other’s exhibitions (albeit briefly) and had a crowd of keen art goers walk between the two locations. We thought it really showed the spirit of what an arts community should be like, a place where ARIs are mutually supportive rather than competitive, and where an audience is committed to attending and supporting a multitude of events that can sometimes occur on one night.

Q. Wow,  so many different models and methods being used today, one nighters, three tonners, multiple loci, and globally too?

A. Our model of running an ARI is something that in some ways is quite standard in terms of opening up applications, selecting the artists that we think are the most appropriate for the space, confirming our exhibition program of monthly one-night events and also leaving space for other opportunities that might pop up along the way. The difference with CLUTCH is in our space and its nomadic nature. CLUTCH, while as organized as we can be, does however rely on the support of a broader network of friends, family, our university connections and other supporters to pull off the logistical challenge of driving and parking a large vehicle at a specific location for which we (sometimes) require permission, and facilitating works with technical equipment and supplies borrowed from necessary sources. From what we understand, these kinds of networks are used by most emerging ARIs who are similarly self-funded and ambitious as we are.

Because of the social aspect of the Brisbane art scene and our networks that have developed through university and broader art contexts, we have the benefit of having regular and sizeable crowds of friends and art show regulars (which for us are one in the same, really) that support our shows. As well as self-promoting through social media networks, CLUTCH is regularly supported by the Brisbane Art website and social media pages who share our events at a broader audience than any of us are able to personally. Again, this is a method that is fairly standard for local ARIs as a way of spreading the word about upcoming shows and sharing documentation and essays of past exhibitions too.

Artist-run initiatives matter for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, they are the most accessible and unpretentious format of exhibition space that is available to emerging artists. They are spaces where practices develop and find confidence in the freedom of peer critique and encouragement. They are affordable, DIY, community-based, open environments that truly foster experimental practices in ways that art institutions, commercial galleries and other organizations don’t.

Q.  Did the Clutch crew manage to visit the Ephemeral Traces exhibition about 1980s Brisbane artist-runs at the University of Queensland Art Museum April- July this year?

A. Yes we did! It was a really inspiring show in terms of placing ourselves amongst such a rich history of Brisbane ARIs. It was almost chilling to take a step back and think that in 30 years time another retrospective could potentially present an archive (probably online, however) of our contribution to the ARI movement, which seems to be having another strong resurgence not unlike what happened with the emergence of spaces and activities in the 1980s.

We were especially excited to see hiding away off to the side of the first main exhibition space, documentation of a work by artist Mark Webb. Mark was a supervisor to all of us throughout our Honours projects, and as long as we’ve known him has kept his practice very much a secret. It was amazing to see his work, as we had assumed, as part of a truly strong movement of rather radical work happening throughout the 80s.

Another aspect of the show that resonated with us was the rebellious nature of a number of activities that were happening during the 80s. For example, artists reacting to lack of funding and exhibition spaces for emerging practices by hosting shows in abandoned buildings or office blocks that were due to be demolished. We related most definitely to the experience of a lack of funding in the arts as well as a strong ambition to find alternative spaces and potentially disobey the law in terms of seeking (or rather not seeking) permission to park our truck in public or private spaces.

Q. Brisbane has such a wellspring of artist-run heritage since the late 1979s, in a similar way, what are your enjoying about the ARI Remix Project here, artist-led archives 1980-1990 in development now?

A. We find the richness, quantity and quality of content in the project amazing, and think it’s a really necessary part of any arts community to archive an ongoing history. As active members of a current arts environment in Brisbane that we believe is pretty thrilling in terms of ARI activity lately, we think it’s essential to understand the historical context in which we exist. Without projects like ARI Remix, it’s impossible, especially for many of us as young ARI directors and artists, to grasp the width and breadth of what has come before us in terms of experimental, guerilla and total anti-establishment ARI histories in Brisbane. ARI Remix brings a new life to past ARIs, exhibitions, activities, artists and audiences, and allows for current initiatives to draw connections and parallels to a shared and timeless experience of a desire for artist-run and non-institutional spaces to contribute to the development of experimental arts practices.



Q. Thanks, Im sure the ARI Remix Collectve will be chuffed to hear this testimony, and what enticing bits n pieces is Clutch Collective planning for 2016 and 2017?

A. CLUTCH has another great show planned for September – so keep your eyes peeled! We are in the process of planning a show to be included in the BARI exhibitions program running in October, which could see the truck parked at a landmark Brisbane location. As well as this, we are excited to be contributing to a panel discussion as part of the BARI festival program.

In regards to longer-term plans, we will soon release a call for applications for our 2017 exhibitions program, and are in discussion with a fellow ARI regarding a collaborative curatorial project and location coordination. We feel like our wheels have only just scratched the surface in the Brisbane ARI scene, and we can’t wait to really dig in and have a number of equally great shows and artists as what we’ve presented so far in 2016.

Q. Are you hopeful for the future of artist-runs, how so, why so, what value do you feel they bring to the knowledge base, to arts and culture heritage that institutional spaces like the IMA, QAG or GOMA don’t offer or provide?

A. YES! We absolutely are. We think there is a new air of ambition and passion around Brisbane ARIs, not just because there are a lot of them, but because artists are making strong works that are being presented by ARI directors who are equally as passionate about art as their exhibitors, and who know the ins and outs of their spaces and their networks. It is the combination of these elements that we believe makes things work, and what is driving an exciting flood of artist run activity in Brisbane as of late and will continue to drive things into the future.

A. As ARI directors, it is clear to us that our fellow directors and artists are mutually concerned with continuing to support each other’s projects in order to contribute to the livelihood and longevity of local artist-run activity. We KNOW that without ARIs, many artists wouldn’t have an opportunity to get their foot in the door (or in the truck) and are left feeling pretty disconnected without the opportunities that ARIs offer to emerging arts practices. For many artists who have recently completed university degrees, it’s quite obvious that there’s a long journey that comes between leaving the safety blanket of an art school and the convenience of the facilities and exhibition spaces it provides before being able to even fathom the idea of presenting in an art institution like IMA or GOMA (if that is even the goal of an individual at all).

We see artist-run initiatives as an experimental and safe space for the development of emerging practices. A lot of ARIs and artists alike approach projects as works or bodies of work in development rather than a final iteration of a fully developed and resolved exhibition. The social nature of and peer support that is prevalent at ARI shows is fundamental to the working process, support and critique that is a necessary and ongoing step for any developing practice. While more established artists also show at local ARIs, the spaces maintain a total non-pretentious feel and are always open to discussion of an artist’s ongoing growth and refinement of concepts and installation methods. Institutions such as the IMA and GOMA are not accessible in this way. They are much less about supporting open environments of critique to assist the growth of local artists as they are about presenting well established early/mid/late career artists with generously funded projects and publications.

From our perspective – ARIs are significantly more valuable to emerging artists than art institutions ever will be because they are run BY ARTISTS, FOR ARTISTS, and are supported largely by the attendance OF ARTISTS. This is not to say that ARIs present and exclusive arena for artists only, in fact it’s quite the opposite. ARI events are as much about socializing and networking as they are viewing the work of an emerging artist. We believe that the value they hold is immeasurable, but certainly is something we can say we’ve all felt as exhibiting artists and as the directors of CLUTCH Collective.

As the crowd gathers eagerly around a work, as they applaud the end of a two-and-a-half-hour endurance performance, as they generously donate a little extra in exchange for a wine that’s in reality at least a third of the cost, as an artist expresses gratitude for an opportunity to finally share the work they so meticulously put time, money and tears into…. that’s what the value of ARIs feels like to us, and why we believe their impact on the cultural heritage and the arts community of Brisbane is immense and will continue to be for as long as we can imagine.




RELATED LINKS

Read More:
http://clutchcollective.org

Parallel Park:
http://www.parallelpark.org

Clutch Collective – Artist’s Websites:

http://www.naomiblacklock.com
http://www.hollybates.com
http://www.taylahaggarty.com

HOMEGROUND at Boxcopy

https://boxcopy.org/projects/homeground

Brisbane ARIs Now:

https://boxcopy.org

http://www.cutthumb.org

https://thelaundryartspace.com

http://www.fake-estate.com

http://www.kunstbunkergallery.com

http://inresidence-ari.com

http://www.oralari.com

http://aggregateprojects.weebly.com

Brisbane Art:

http://bneart.com

Read More about Brisbane’s Artist-Run Festival here:

http://www.bari.com.au

To read more about Australian Artist-Run Heritage:

http://remix.org.au/

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Yielding with Artist Jacqueline King - Northern Rivers Community Gallery Ballina until August 28, 2016 - INTERVIEWS


Hope, (detail), 2016

q. Jacqueline Hi and thanks for your time today. Tell me about your background as an artist working with glass and sculpture?

a. It began in 2006 as a form of self therapy if you will. I was in the early stages of coping with the aftermath of a traumatic period in my life and learning to live with Complex PTSD and a friend suggested I find something to do with my hands so I did and glass was it! Slowly the process of what began as very simple hand cut glass stars became a source of peace...a meditation if you will, playing with colour and patience.

I’d moved to my little home in Dalwood, Northern NSW as an escape and the ‘shed’ became consumed by my pursuits within a couple of years. Glass became my lifeline and literally saved my life, reformatted my brain and gave me a gift I did not expect.

The imaginings come to me in the space between wakefulness and sleep and although I often used to lose hope during their creation I have learned to have faith and persevere and so the imaginings continue to flow. Almost as if I am just the tool...my body, my existence became the tool for simply trusting the flow and making it real. Largely being self taught meant I had to learn a whole lot of new skills in order to see each vision made visible.


Yielding, Glass Installation, Northern Rivers Community Gallery, Ballina


q. How did this fabulous exhibition on now at the Northern Rivers Community Gallery in Ballina come about?

a. Looking back on my work it became apparent I had two themes appearing unintentionally. One was the fragile beautiful environment we experience here in Australia and the other the fragile nature of my own mental health. I had long held hope that one day I could merge these themes and create a body of work that truely put voice to what I had no words for.

After ten years of experimentation in glass ‘Yielding’ is as close as I’d ever imagined I would come.

Each glass form has been intuitively created to reveal the tension of my own existence, indeed perhaps all existence, where safety and permanence are illusion yet equally present in each magnificent breath we take.

q. Perhaps one the most astonishing aspects to your installation is the inherent fragility of the works?

a. The fragility is definitely intentional and integral to what I was trying to whisper and shout.

q. Tactility. I found myself both seduced and captivated by this fragility and while observing the works I felt an overwhelming need to touch them, a taboo in the art gallery more often than not?

a. I hope it is the organic aspect of the works that originally draws you in. I held vision for each to not seem made of glass but rather something elemental, dew, ice, lava, blood, snow, gold, spun silk. I hoped they became so visceral that they were magnetic and this was my delight when on the first day I wandered around the gallery space anonymously and observed a group of mature visitors (who usually are those well versed in the usual rules of galleries where touching works has long been forbidden, hearing words from stern parents of “look with your eyes not your fingers”) and held my breath as each one touched several works including some of the most fragile. My job was done!

q. In some measure we as humans have this innate dual sense of creation and destruction, and I wonder whether this sense of tactility that your works produce is in some way tapped into this innate sensibility in some deep archetypal way, the tension we feel throughout our lives with the shared capacity/ simultaneity for creation and destruction?

a. I love that you’ve raised this in such an insightful way...it is the essence of the experience of deep trauma and the breakthrough that is possible, the re-birthing that is both violent and divine. This is accessed by all who would seek that most universal truth of love (what we must learn in order to fully live and transcend our sleeping states) as love will destroy if it deems this is the way to wake us, just as surely as it will fill our hearts with awe.


48 Threads, 2016

q. Can you tell me in some detail about your process, from concept to creation?

a. The vision side I’ve pretty much covered already but in this body of work all the pieces were deliberately kiln formed work rather than the cold glass work I also do. This also was intentional as I wanted some kind of alchemy in play that I felt only the heat of my kiln could deliver. Each piece has had multiple firings to temperatures ranging between 565 degree Celsius (in the case of the glass nest ‘Hope’ to 790 degrees Celsius for full fused works. Many include multiple techniques from flame working, powdered crackle glass through to pattern bar inlays.

q. Artist Julianne Zoviar Clunne was telling me about one particular work, 48 Threads that has a series of tender "tendrils" signifiying each year of your life?

a.  True,  ‘48 Threads’. It’s a vessel made from 48 flame-worked hand pulled canes of clear glass, one for each year of my life so far, held together by kiln firing at tack fuse temperature variable sized clear frit in the centre and again on an uneven edge. It is approx 16” diameter and has then been slumped into an irregular form created in fibre blanket. I wanted it to appear unspeakably fragile yet compellingly beautiful so as to reflect my journey so far on this place we call earth which itself spins miraculously at the edge of oblivion.

q. As a sympatico artist here equally inspired and transformed by the effects of trauma, I was intrigued to read something about your own direct lived experience of living with CPTSD and how it influences your work as an artist, in particular the choice of your medium Jacqueline, and the intrinsic fragility of glass. Tell me about this impulse in your work?

a. Glass chose me rather than the other way around. Call it serendipity but there is a connection between the two best characterised by something I heard once on the radio by a leading UK Trauma Psychiatrist who described PTSD something like this...


“Imagine you are a beautiful glass vase with exquisite colour and form sitting on a sideboard and much admired. When major trauma happens the beautiful glass vase that you are gets knocked off the table and smashes on the floor splintering into thousands of pieces. Most rush quickly to gather the pieces and try valiantly to hold it all together, to appear like they used to be by holding all the pieces together with anything they can. But there is no way to do this of course.

Some, with good therapeutic support coupled with the support of loving family and community, will slowly learn that there is no becoming what they were...but they just might become a beautiful mosaic instead!”


​q. Thanks Jacqueline, wow,  and tell me something of the most challenging aspects of making these distinctive glass works?

a. The most challenging aspect was ensuring each piece was really raw and really me. Two works were held back from display by the Director, Lee Mathers who described them as ‘restrained’ and she was absolutely right...I wanted to stretch every skill I had in each work...synthesize 10 years of glass making and squeeze all its juice into new territory using all the experience, all the pain, all the magnificence, all the qualities unique to me and to glass into each piece. May I be blessed to live another 10 years to try again.

q. And one or two of the most satisfying and/or consoling aspects of making these exquisite works?

a. Ahh, what I feel inside is made visible! I watch my hands do things to make what is in my fibre and barely know how it occurs...like breathing.

q. What are you working on now Jacqueline?

a. I’m about to start a commission window, right off track from this series, but it’s for a well loved an respected author who has a home north of here and it has been commissioned by a circle of women who radiate love.

It will be made from the last batch of Spectrum Waterglass in the world as sadly one of the worlds best glass manufacturers has recently shut its doors in the US so I’m excited to get this project underway.

Yielding:

http://www.nrcgballina.com.au/v1/exhibitions/2016-exhibitions/258-yielding

Jacqueline's Artist Website:

http://www.jacquelineking.com.au/

Read more INTERVIEWS by Paul Andrew here:

ARI Remix - Australian Artist-Run Heritage

Monday, August 01, 2016

ARI REMIX - Interview with artist and designer Angelina Martinez- INTERVIEWS - remix.org.au

Angelina Martinez, That Space, 1987 PHOTO: Lisa Wicks



BIO

Angelina Martinez is an award winning graphic designer with over 10 years experience in all aspects of design for print, with specialist skills in publication design.

Previously Angelina was engaged as a graphic designer at the Queensland Art Gallery for over 7 years. This experience, combined with her BA in Fine Art from QCA, has provided her with a unique understanding of communication design for museums and the arts and cultural sector.

Angelina has furthered her professional experience in the corporate sector through working for two of the best design studios in Brisbane.

Recently taking the step to self-employment, Angelina is dedicated to providing her clients with creative, considered, brilliantly executed design outcomes that communicate effectively to its audience and straight-forward, concise, timely project management and delivery.
Angelina is based in Brisbane, Australia.


Interview

PA:

Angelina Hi and thanks, remix.org.au, why does an artist-led archive mapping artist testimonies and artist histories about the ephemeral nature of the vibrant Queensland 1980-1990 artist-run scene matter to you?

AM:

I too am very interested in this public archive project as I believe it’s important these untold stories are put on the public record.

I was directly involved with several Brisbane/ QLD artist-runs during this era including as an practicing artist maintaining a studio and contributing as a committee member of That Contemporary Artspace collective, located at the rear of 20 Charlotte St, 1986-88.

I also exhibited my work in the gallery space downstairs and was involved in day to day activities and collaborated with the other artists. I was also involved in Bureau Shop 4, City Plaza, Adelaide St, in 1989 and exhibited my work there and I participated in the 1988 Axis Art Project Axis File which was exhibited in New York.

As a Queensland based artist at the time I was working in various media including painting, installation, drawing and sculpture and was focused on various subjects in my professional practice including exploring the contemporary ideas of feminism and female sexuality.

I also felt that women were completely under-represented and mis-represented in the art world during the 1980s.

From my perspective this plethora of artist-runs at this time provided many artists like me with a sense of belonging, a sense of purpose, a sense of the future, a sense of hope and opportunity.
Support and resources for young artists to develop and contribute to the cultural fabric of the city were non-existent. Many graduates from tertiary institutions felt, like myself, that we were on our own, with very little prospect of realising any sort of professional career let alone a career in visual art practice.

ARI’s or artist-run spaces as we called them also provided us with a place to exhibit, to network and to meet other contemporary artists. This was invaluable at the time as there were no venues, institutions or galleries that would even consider exhibiting my work or promoting my art practice, especially those of a young female artist like myself.

It is disconcerting that documentation and ephemera from this era has not been collected and published. This archive of material and resources and those of others like myself, deserves to have a place in the social and art history of the city.

It is important to document this history of ARI’s in Brisbane because of the unique political, economic and social circumstances at the time, and how this generated such enormous activity by cultural workers that was often critical, challenging and provocative.

REMIX is designed as an online project and what is terrific about this is that it will make these interviews and archives available to a wider audience online, from Queensland and elsewhere, and for much longer period than any exhibition can even attempt to provide. This is important to me.

Today I work as a freelance graphic designer specifically providing design services for clients in the Arts and Museum sector. I’ve also worked at the Queensland Art Gallery as a designer for over seven years.

I continue to be involved with local art practitioners, freelance curators and art administrators through my work providing specialised graphic design solutions and services.

Looking back now at my involvement with artist-run spaces like That Contemporary Artspace and Bureau with reflection – has provided me with an invaluable creative experience that continues to serve me well in my professional work and in my everyday life. It was an amazing and vibrant time.

Read more:
http://remix.org.au/interview-angelina-martinez/

Saturday, July 30, 2016

ARI Remix Project - remix.org.au - Artist-led Archive- 1980-1990 Brisbane Queensland Australia Artist-Run Heritage in development now...



A COLLABORATIVE MEMORY OF
EPHEMERAL ARTIST-RUN CULTURE & HERITAGE

http://remix.org.au/

An Open Source, Public Archive, eResource & Database Artwork
A Work in Progress & In Development Now

Stage One:     QLD 1980-1990 April 2015 – Dec 2016
Stage Two:     QLD 1990-2000 (TBA 2017)
Stage Three:  NSW 1980-1990  (TBA 2017)

STAGE ONE
1980-1990 ARTIST-RUN HERITAGE – The Queensland ARI Remix

The ARI Remix project began in earnest in November 2012 via the social media open group, now comprising over 300 of the artists, designers, creatives, peers and social observers engaged in 1980-1990 Queensland artist-run collaborations here:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/451268288264701/

This open group was initiated to assist with both the research and development of the Ephemeral Traces exhibition curated by Peter Anderson at the University of Queensland Art Museum and the collaborative ARI Remix Open source Public Archive. These two projects are independent but related projects and are being generated in collaboration through shared research, study, dialogue.

Read More about the Ephemeral Traces exhibition:
http://www.artmuseum.uq.edu.au/ephemeral-traces-brisbanes-artist-run-scene-1980s

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

ARI Remix - Artist Jeff Gibson - The Ephemera INTERVIEWS - remix.org.au


Interview with Brisbane-born Artist Jeff Gibson

The Ephemera INTERVIEWS excerpt:


Brisbane-born and raised, Gibson studied journalism, media theory, modern history, and the visual arts at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (now the University of Southern Queensland) before moving to Sydney in 1981 to co-manage an artist-run space, Art/Empire/Industry.

He then studied art and critical theory at Sydney College of the Arts (1984–85) and co-managed another artist-run gallery, Union Street (1985–86). Over the following twelve years he mounted numerous solo shows at commercial and public spaces in Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne, including the Mori and Gitte Weise galleries in Sydney, the Michael Milburn Gallery and the Institute of Modern Art in Brisbane, and Tolarno gallery and the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne.

During that time he participated in group shows in Australia and abroad, including exhibitions at the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, and Artists Space in New York. In 1988 he began working for Art & Text magazine, becoming associate editor in 1991 and senior editor in 1994.

He taught in both the painting and print media departments at Sydney College of the Arts from 1991 until 1998, at which point he moved to New York to work for Artforum magazine where he is currently managing editor. Since arriving in New York, he has produced two artist’s books, exhibited on the Panasonic Astrovision screen in Times Square as part of Creative Time’s “59th Minute” program, and mounted solo shows at the New York Academy of Sciences, Stephan Stoyanov Gallery (New York), and The Suburban (Chicago).

Throughout January 2011, two of the artist’s videos were projected onto the facade of the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, as part of a curated series presented by Light Work and the Urban Video Project. His video Metapoetaestheticism, 2013, was exhibited in the 2014 Whitney Biennial.


PA: 1980’s Social History: Jeff tell me about the milieu you experienced during the early to mid-1980s as a young artist living, working, collaborating in Toowoomba and Brisbane, what sort of world was this Queensland for you?

JG: I attended what was then the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education (DDIAE) in Toowoomba from 1976 through 1980. I was born and raised in Brisbane but elected to study in Toowoomba because I was restless and wanted a change of scenery. I was a rebellious, dyspeptic upstart primed for punk. Drawn to art, music and exposition I started out in journalism and media studies since writing seemed a more sensible option than art.

I glommed onto Marshall McLuhan and the Sex Pistols, then switched, after a year of journalism, to the art department. I dove headlong into art and soon after also formed a band—the Sad Cases—with Stephen Butler, Kieran Knox, and James Rogers.

I found Brisbane very oppressive at that time. I would participate in demonstrations and street marches and then retreat to Toowoomba. I guess to some extent I “dropped out.” I lived in farmhouses—dystopian art punks in a rural/hippie setting. It was fun in its own way, but of course Toowoomba was even more reactionary than Brisbane.

As an anti-authoritarian malcontent, I had plenty to push against. I learnt an awful lot at college but by the time I was half way through my visual arts degree it seemed to me that the culture and politics of the state of Queensland were not conducive to a full creative life, so I committed to moving to Sydney as soon as I’d completed my course.

PA: Tell me about your exodus from Queensland in 1981?

JG: I didn’t really participate in the artist-run Brisbane scene. I bummed around for a year after high school then moved to Toowoomba in 1976 to study for four years. After that, I took a bee-line for Sydney. As soon as I got to Sydney, I helped open a gallery on Sussex Street—Art/Empire/Industry—with James Rogers, Gayle Pollard, Calvin Brown, and Glen Puster. There were other artist-run spaces in existence, but it was all pretty rogue and subrosa until the mid-‘80s when ARIs became more formally integrated into the art world, attracting a little assistance from the Australia Council. A/E/I only lasted a year (it resurfaced later without me and James). The absurdly cheap-to-rent loft was sold out from under us. Shortly after, I started a postgrad course at SCA and co-organized another gallery, Union Street, with artists Deborah Dawes, Deborah Singleton, and Jelle van den Berg.

Things were changing. There was a new professionalism creeping into artist-run culture in Sydney. An actual scene was beginning to take shape. Art & Text delivered a fresh discourse that launched a seemingly cohesive generation of postmodernists quite distinct from previous generations of artists, even progressive ones. Stephen Mori, Roslyn Oxley, and Kerry Crowley opened galleries that were sympathetic to these concerns. ARIs in career-minded Sydney were at this point as much professional launching pads as they were cradles of experimentation. Comparisons were often made between Union Street and the East Village New York artist-run galleries that catapaulted 80s art stars like Richard Prince, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, and Robert Longo into the stratosphere. Obviously, the cultural and financial stakes and rewards were much lower in Australia.

In time I came to know more of early Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne artist-run spaces through conversation, conferences, travel and the occasional reference in Art & Text, Art Network, and Tension magazines.

More:
Jeff Gibson Interview- ARI Remix

Sunday, July 19, 2015

ARI Remix- Jasmine Hirst On Artist-Run Culture Australia 1980 -1990 - The Remix Project - Paul Andrew INTERVIEWS


 

Jasmine Hirst is a filmmaker and photographic artist living and working in New York. Her films are collected by the NY Filmmakers Co-op of the New Cinema Group, and have screened at the California Museum of Contemporary Art, London’s Horse Hospital Gallery and the Sydney Underground Film Festival to great acclaim.

Jasmine Hirst's photographic art is represented by Illuminated Metropolis Gallery in New York and the Mori Gallery in Sydney and has been exhibited internationally, including at the Casa Del Pane in Milan, Sprengel Museum in Hanover, and Perth Institute of Contemporary Art.

Jasmine has ongoing collaborations with Penny Arcade, ex-Andy Warhol Superstar, and Lydia Lunch. Jasmine’s art delves into the darkest recesses of humanity’s most ferocious wounds: abuse, broken hearts, suicide and murder. Her work attempts to make sense of the senselessness and brutality of this world.
In this interview jasmine speaks to ARI Remix researcher and artist Paul Andrew about her archive and her direct and active participation and engagement in the diverse artist-run culture scene in Brisbane and Sydney, Australia during the 1980's.



PA:

Late 1970s and early 1980’s Queensland/Brisbane social history, what sort of world was this Queensland for you?

JH:

In the 70’s I was still attending school, graduating in 1980, so my experience of Brisbane’s art scene was confined to a somewhat sheltered typical teenager life at this time. I was raised in a homophobic, racist, misogynist, conservative suburb in Brisbane’s north steeped in the on-going culture of the ‘tall poppy syndrome’.

I had learnt from a very early age that to shine or excel is a very dangerous thing. And to be different in any way is social suicide. So I hid my academic successes and my magical overseas experiences afforded me by my traveling family.

My parents took me to London in 1979 for a vacation, where I experienced the Punk and Skinhead cultures for the first time. They took me to see Lindsay Kemps’ ‘Flowers’, a stage adaptation of Genet’s, ‘Our Lady of the Flowers’.

I was a naive 15 year old, with no understanding of the true meanings of this performance, but I was truly mesmerized. What an incredible gift my parents gave me, to witness Lindsay Kemp in the flesh.

An equally compelling experience was almost being mugged by skinheads on the London Underground on the way back from this show. I was amazed by their aesthetic, unknown in the suburbs of Brisbane at that time, shaved heads, and bovver boots.

This introduction to Punk/Skinhead phenomena was mixed with terror as I watched them eye my mother’s handbag and felt the energy of intended violence. Although, having being brought up in the Australian suburbs, I was unfortunately accustomed to being in a state of hyper vigilance of potential male violence.
I had learnt from a very early age that to shine or excel is a very dangerous thing. And to be different in any way is social suicide. So I hid my academic successes and my magical overseas experiences afforded me by my traveling family.

PA:

Punk Consciousness when how and where did that begin for you in Brisbane?

JH:

Also in that year a new girl came to school with short red dyed hair. I remember her carrying around a copy of an Iggy Pop album, his incredible wiry naked torso against an all-white cover. Punk was slowly making its way into Australian society and my psyche.

I completed High School in 1980 and in 1981 I went to Queensland University to study subjects that my parents decided would be appropriate for me so as to make a living in the future. My heart however was with art.

Although my father had a darkroom in our house and had taught me how the develop and print Black and White photos, when I was aged six, I began photographic classes as an extra curricular activity.

I joined the theatre and filmmakers groups at Uni. I remember creating a dance to the Moody Blues’ song “Every Good Boy Deserves Favour”, having had studied classical ballet since I was five years old. After having spent weeks choreographing this performance, the director, who is now a very famous theatre director in Australia, was incredibly rude to me and I walked out. This was my first lesson in learning that a disrespectful and rude nature doesn’t impede a person’s climb to fame, in fact it seems it is a necessary component in making it to the top. Living in the Art World has thickened my skin but not dulled my memory.

In hindsight attending twelve years of school was a total waste of time for me. The only valuable thing they taught me was to read.

My real education began when I met a girl, we shall call X, in my first year of University. She had been a punk, way ahead of her time in Brisbane culture. She introduced my to the world of underground music, literature art and film. We would see foreign movies at an art house cinema in Windsor, The Crystal. We attended the New York Underground Film Festival held in a little office-like projection room somewhere.

X educated me in the music of Patti Smith, the Sex Pistols, Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground; Andy Warhol’s Factory scene and learnt about the lives of Jayne County, Edie Sedgwick, Taylor Meade and the Factory habitués. I would attend shows and exhibitions at a theater in Edward Street where the Blunt Focus Cinema Collective was housed at the time. The theatre also there in the then Community Arts Centre. One of the highlights for me was Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” performed, as originally intended, by all men, with Luke Roberts (http://lukerobertsartist.com) as the incredible Martha.

I volunteered at night as a dresser at the La Boite theatre in Milton and met Michelle Andringa, a Brisbane based visual and performance artist. Through Michelle I met number of artists, many of whom were connected to the Architecture School of Queensland University, it was a time when there were many cross overs between ‘schools’, the Q scene was very active, the Student Union, Activities, 4zzz radio was located there at the time and was a voice of dissent. Michelle and I continued our friendship when we both moved to Sydney.

My memories of this period are very spotty. It was thirty five years ago and I have trouble remembering where I put my coffee one minute ago. But these are the memories that remain:

Attending a performance of the Go-Betweens at an amazing Brisbane venue, which was a pool in Spring Hill, The Spring Hill Baths. Alcohol and swimming pools a dangerous mix! but I don’t believe anyone drowned that night.)

Listening to 4ZZZ radio. The Home of Punk and the punk band scene, The Riptides, Plug Uglies, The Leftovers, and Halfway.

Seeing The Saints somewhere. An interesting note is that Artist Linda Dement, a mainstay of Cyberfeminism in the early 1990’s, who I hadn’t met yet, was in the Saints’ ‘Temple of the Lord’ music video.

Watching The Sunny Boys somewhere, Noosa maybe?

I attended parties in a line of terrace houses near William Terrace, these terraces were squats from memory. These events were filled with artists and musicians and the outsiders of society. It was fascinating to me as I was still very sheltered despite my early excursions into the alternative lifestyles of Brisbane in the 1981-82 period. There was a raw energy I was experiencing that was new to me. I couldn’t quite name it but I longed to live full-time in this world. The energy was of course, Creative Energy. It lit me up.

I filmed my first music video for a band at UQ, but now, looking back, I can’t recall their name.

Frequenting nightclubs in the Valley, when it was like New York’s Time Square or Sydney’s Kings Cross in the 70’s. I have vague recollections of dancing at The Beat, Hacienda Hotel, the Silver Dollar, Terminus and the Wickham Hotel. It was a dangerous area but I had no fear because, as I said before, I was already trained to endure the danger of living in Brisbane’s suburbs.

I was also oblivious to the criminal underground taking place there. When I was still attending high school I would frequent a cinema next to The Valley train station, The Valley Twin. With my best friend we would watch The Rocky Horror Picture Show over and over again. We had no idea we were walking through a red light district to get there. The Bathhouses, Bubbles, the secret places.

Punk entered my life in full force when I moved to Darlinghurst, Sydney in 1983. That’s where I met my soul mates. Punk is the great evener. No one cared what gender or sexual orientation or race you were. Punk encompassed and embraced all the outsiders of the world. If you had been an outsider in school, this is where you were an insider. The whole world should adopt this tenet of Punk.

Seeing The Saints somewhere. An interesting note is that Artist Linda Dement, a mainstay of Cyberfeminism in the early 1990’s, who I hadn't met yet, was in the Saints' 'Temple of the Lord' music video.


PA:

The Bjelke Peterson Regime, “The Police State” – the oppressive political backdrop, the state sanctioned vice and corruption you touch upon now: Tell me in some detail about this political climate in Queensland during the late 1970’s and early 1980s?
JH:

My parents weren’t politically conscious people, so my life growing up entailed other perceptions of the world. I have always been somewhat introspective so the political climate of the day made no impact on my young soul. I just went with the flow of what was happening politically in my world. My parents were my immediate Prime Ministers!


My focus was directed to the inner landscape of pain, since that is all I really knew. I was born into the Jo Bjelke Petersen Regime so I didn’t know anything that existed outside of this. The only impact changing governments made on me, was their different directives on arts funding. For example, when Bob Hawke came to power he instigated funding programs for women artists and filmmakers, which afforded me the opportunity to participate in the Premier’s Department programs, Technical Girls Collective and receive grants from the Women’s Film Fund of the Australian Film Commission when I was squatting in Darlinghurst. 

I was more impacted by the endemic nature of misogyny and of male violence towards women, more than the prevailing Government at that time.

PA:

Tell me in some detail about what you witnessed of colleagues who were gay, lesbian or trans, what you witnessed about their ordeals with coming out and the oppression and prejudice you and they experienced in the Bjelke-Peterson Police State during this period?

JH:

I lived in a bubble. I was totally unaware of gay politics and oppression until later on when I lived in Sydney and matured and became more conscious of the world around me. I remember a boy in primary school calling me a ‘lesbian’ as a derogatory term. Neither of us knew what it actually meant. I called him a ‘lesbian’ back. And then I learnt that to be a ‘poofter’ was one of the worst sins in the world. All I knew was that all the abuse I received was from heterosexual males. Gay men don’t drive around in cars dragging young girls off the street and gang raping them.

I was recently shocked to read that homosexuality in Queensland, the sodomy laws the Labour Goss government changed in 1990 after the Bjelke Peterson regime, still apply. And I believe Gay Marriage is still illegal in Australia. I can see that the homophobia of Australian culture hasn’t changed one little bit. It’s 2015. This world bewilders me. Thank God I live in New York City, a melting pot of different sexual orientations, races, genders, religious and non-religious beliefs. No one here cares if you are gay, straight or otherwise.

PA:

Tell me about these direct lived experiences around Bullying, Brutality, and Violence while living in Brisbane?

JH:

School was a war zone. Boys were hitting me on the head when I was five years old in Infants School. I was sexually assaulted by a stranger at six, on my way home from school. The boys at both Primary and High School were constantly grabbing at me. I remember the Keperra Gang racing around terrorising girls in the suburbs. Sexual assault is the normal socialisation of the girl child in our society. One in three girls, and one in five boys, are sexually assaulted by a male family member before the age of 18.

I believe these statistics are low in reality. I made art about this for years. But nothing changes. And it got worse when I left school. A Taxi driver drove me to isolated part of the city one night, when I was coming home from a club in the Valley. There are too many incidences for me to recall, nor do I want to recall them. These experiences formed the core subject matter of my Art-making.

I was asked years later to participate in an exhibition about the murder of Anita Corby. The horror of the brutal rape and torture of a woman walking home in the suburbs from the train station resonated so profoundly within me. I could have so easily been Anita Cobby, many times over.

And of course one of the male artists asked to participate in this exhibition About Anita, chose to paint the perpetrators. So predictable. He wanted attention for being controversial, he got it.

PA:

Kinship: By way of a brief biography of your immediate family background?

JH:

I grew up in the suburbs of Brisbane into what one would term, a lower middle class family. My father was an artist, but chose to take a job in the Government to support his family. He was a photographer and a filmmaker (Super 8 filmmaking which was popular in the 1960s and 1970s), home movies were big and experimental filmmaking at home too, and my father liked film techniques like superimposition and printed his own Black and White photographic work in a darkroom he had set up in the back room.

In my childhood he would make Super 8 films of me acting out fairy tales and nursery rhymes. He also filmed New York in 1968 on a vacation there and I don’t know where the footage is. Super Eight film has left a wonderful impression. I remember it to be an amazing visual slice of New York street life, a treasure chest that I have since lost.

His creativity was also manifested in entering competitions with magnificent elaborate three-dimensional entries. He won many things over the years, many vacations overseas and weird objects.

Dad had long wanted to work in television and took me to many films in the beautiful old theatres of Brisbane, The Boomerang, The Regent, they all had great names. He would also take me to Arthouse cinemas and so I was introduced at a young age to the outside cultures through cinema. He was also a big traveller and adventurer, taking us to exotic places, Timor, the Pacific Islands, Europe and USA.

One of my fondest memories is driving over a hill and suddenly seeing the Manhattan skyscrapers. I was fifteen years old and totally mesmerized. This was in 1979 when New York was a dangerous place to visit and certainly not tourist friendly. I fell in love with that city right there and then. He took me to see the Broadway show, Dancin’. I stood over the subway grates like Marilyn Monroe and was absolutely thrilled.

I remember music being everywhere. It’s the same today. The most talented musicians in the world perform on streets and in the subways. Music blares out from cars and apartments. I am so grateful to my father for giving me such precious gifts. I had a life long dream of being an artist in New York City, and here I am. Thank you Dad and Mum.

One of my fondest memories is driving over a hill and suddenly seeing the Manhattan skyscrapers. I was fifteen years old and totally mesmerized. This was in 1979 when New York was a dangerous place to visit and certainly not tourist friendly. I fell in love with that city right there and then. He took me to see the Broadway show, Dancin'. I stood over the subway grates like Marilyn Monroe and was absolutely thrilled.


PA:

Where there others, other than family members, whom you considered your significant kinship, circle, the gay scene for example?

JH:

Punks were my family. Punks, artists, outsiders, the quiet ones sitting in the corner, the abused, the disenfranchised, anyone who wasn’t one of the ‘cool’ ones in school, the bookworms, the introverted, the damaged, the lost, the tortured bright ones, the loners, the depressed….
PA:

Art Education- Self-taught to Higher Education: Tell me about your early adult arts training and education?

JH:

I began my creative life as a dancer. I studied classical ballet from five years old. When I left high school I started taking classes in modern dance and jazz. It was my dream to become a professional dancer.

I was too tall for classical ballet as the boys needed petit dancers to pick up. But in modern dance I could be any height. I took classes at Kelvin Grove College and in the city. When I moved to Sydney in 1982 I began classes at the Sydney Dance Company under Paul Saliba’s tutelage.

I had also begun art classes at night so I could build a portfolio to apply for an art college. Because I had only taken academic classes in High school and University I had no concrete artwork. I knew I wanted to be an artist. It was in my blood but at age eighteen I was still discovering what medium suited me. I finally had to make a choice between dance and visual art. When I got accepted in to East Sydney Tech (Now the National Art School) I gave up dancing.

In the years 1983 and 1984 I went to night art classes in drawing and painting I also partook in a government funded project to teach young women how to make videos. This changed my life and led me to a life of a filmmaker. It was funded by Community Trans-Ed Program, Outreach-Randwick and the Women’s Co-ordination Unit (Video Section) of the Premier’s Department. It was supervised by Aquarius Youth Services in Darlinghurst. We made a video about unemployment for girls in school.

But I don’t think the Education department ever approved of it as it advocated creative unemployment…that was important for us at the time. Artist and Writer Barbara Karpinski was one of the members and I believe she went on to be a full time writer in the Arts world. From this group of girls we went on to be the Technical Girls Collective, and created a calendar and postcards and learnt many different art skills. I have shared some of these images here.

At East Sydney Tech I majored in painting but it was soon obvious that I had a predilection for photography. I do like the instant gratification of photography, as I could spend a year on a painting and still not be happy about it.

However my greatest and most profound education is always from other people.

I met Geoffrey Levy while I was at Technical Girls Collective. Geoffrey was an artist and a punk and one of the most amazing people I ever met. He introduced me to the work of Andre Gide, Jean Paul Sartre, Italo Calvino, Jean Rhys, Albert Camus, the Existentialists, Jim Carroll, and Herbert Selby Jr….. He taught me that everything was Art and that inspiration can come from anywhere, from a music video, a TV Show, a magazine article, a stranger you meet on the bus, not just an art gallery.

We spent magical months, making art, reading, writing, walking around Sydney, hanging out, going to nightclubs such as 45’s, Patches, the Exchange Hotel and Critter Canyon in Elizabeth Bay. And then Geoffrey killed himself.

My world fell apart and it took me a long, long time to recover from this loss.

But Geoffrey left me the legacy of making art to transmute pain. Another precious gift he gave me was introducing me to artist Linda Dement. I first met Linda sitting in the gutter in King’s Cross, having just got a tattoo of a blue dinosaur.

And it was this gutter meeting led to a life-long friendship and creative collaboration. Linda was my next wave of education. She introduced me to the writings of Anna Kavan, George Bataille, The French Feminists…. I participated in her production of experimental Super 8 films, and was the subject matter for her photography and book cover designs. In fact Linda is still educating me to this day. We have corresponded with each other since 1984 even when we lived in the same city. Linda still sends me new authors, and music and artists who she finds. She kept me afloat when I was in the pit of grief over Geoffrey’s death. And Linda keeps me afloat today.

In 1991, I was accepted into the Masters Program at University of NSW. I majored in photography and film. I made mural sized photographs, which I printed myself, with Linda’s help, in the gigantic darkroom they had in the basement. Thank God we are now digital!

I also studied video making, having the luxury of access to spectacular film and video equipment. In one of my classes after showing my film work, my lecturer asked a boy in the class what he thought about the work. His face was bright red and he said, “I’m thinking about how hard I would like to hit a ball with a baseball bat.” At one of my exhibitions in the art gallery there, a male left a death threat note on my work. …mmmmmm...

Geoffrey was an artist and a punk and one of the most amazing people I ever met. He introduced me to the work of Andre Gide, Jean Paul Sartre, Italo Calvino, Jean Rhys, Albert Camus, the Existentialists, Jim Carroll, and Herbert Selby Jr..... He taught me that everything was Art and that inspiration can come from anywhere, from a music video, a TV Show, a magazine article, a stranger you meet on the bus, not just an art gallery.


PA:

Tell me about the Technical Girls Collective in a bit more detail?

JH:

I can’t remember how I heard about the initial girl’s collective formed to produce a video. But it was certainly life changing. We were young and punk and wanted to make art.

Communication back then, was largely word of mouth on the streets and at parties and events. Margie Medlin was involved in this group as well. Margie became a well-known artist. All I remember about this time was the excitement of having found my soul group, and running around making art and dying my hair green. 

I was living in a huge warehouse space on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst, a very different Darlinghurst to today. My room was a loft bed built over the stairs. It was hair-raising to get in and out of it. I had met friends who lived in the Alpha and Beta Houses in Newtown. They were squats which housed a plethora of artists who would hold events and happenings.

Our headquarters for these two collectives was Aquarius Youth Services on Burton St, East Sydney from memory, a little old workman’s cottage made of stone. It was mouldy, dank and dark and I had the time of my life in there making art with others.

We also used Darlinghurst CYSS, which housed art equipment and facilities. Creativity was alive and well in inner Sydney in the early 80’s. Many of the projects were funded by Government agencies. And sitting in that ghost-ridden workman’s college is where I first laid eyes on Geoffrey, who had come with to visit Margie Medlin.

Geoffrey changed my life. He was the most instrumental person in affecting my life as an artist. Art-making lives in your blood, it is a 24/7 job. It doesn’t matter whether one’s work ever gets into a gallery or not. It may never been seen by anyone, until twenty years after you die and someone finds a box of your negatives in a garage sale and makes a book out of them.

Some of the girls from Technical Girl’s Collective continued to meet and wrote a film script, which was funded by the Women’s Film Fund of the Australian Film Commission, “With Inertia”.

“With Inertia” was eventually screened on SBS and made it to Berlin Film Festival and Melbourne Film Festival. It was a surreal snapshot of life in Darlinghurst in 1983. We had a twenty two strong all female crew. Which was great that so many women were learning skills in filmmaking, but I found interacting with twenty two other people incredibly stressful.

I prefer to work alone or collaborate with one other person. Otherwise there are too many egos clashing at once. And everyone’s childhood wounds are bashing their heads against each other.

There were three other very important artist run scenes occurring at this time. Nothing was really established or named or categorised into a neat package as it is today, terms like emerging artists or ARIs were not as commonplace as they are today.

These artist-run spaces organically came together. The streets were the internet. The Oasis, where I lived for a time, was the old Women’s Prison, where East Sydney Tech was housed. It was a beautiful 1800’s mansion which a mini jungle in the centre of it. It attracted the artists and outsiders. Everyone was a practicing artist with elaborately decorated rooms. One German artist built his room to match the inside of a heart. I lived in a room that was the servant’s quarters. I painted it all dark blue to match my blue mood.

The Gunnery was in Woolloomooloo where Artspace now stands. It was a large squat with no electricity and filled with artists and punks. It had been an old Navy training building and housed a round theatre on the top floor. 

I remember going to the bathroom, which was a series of bathrooms, under a foot of water and in complete darkness. The Gunnery was divided up with sheets and canvases and other structures as walls. Hellen Rose Shausenberger lived and performed there. She has since gone on to become a well-known performer and filmmaker.

I would attend punk bands performing in the old theatre, which consisted of screeching metal on metal and screams and candle light. Armageddon! Hellen later ran a gallery that had been a funeral home and was shaped like a casket, at which both Linda Dement and I exhibited in. Artist Juilee Pryor ran Art Unit in Redfern another significant and lively ARI, a performance venue, studios and printmaking, so many screen printed posters produced there.

The other ARI’s were Alpha and Beta houses in Newtown. I was a regular visitor there but have few recollections of it. I do remember seeing a performance of Butchered Babies’ there, a gothic punk underground performance group led by the beautiful Wendy. Wendy was one of the most stunning girls I have ever met, who I believe is now a teacher of circus acrobats. Sometimes they would hold parties in the abandoned subways in Sydney. I would take my saxophone and screech out ugly free flowing sounds.


PA:

ARI collaborations aside, your “official” art school educators, visiting scholars or guest lecturer did they make an impact on you?


JH:

There wasn’t any educator at any of these institutions who made any real impact on me. They taught me skills. They gave me an art school controlled aesthetic. It took many years to shake off my art school training boundaries. I needed to unlearn.

I was mostly inspired by other artists, Geoffrey and Linda Dement in Australia. And the work of Lydia Lunch, Joel Peter Witkin and Nan Goldin here in the USA. And as Fate would have it, I am now collaborating with Lydia Lunch who brings such immense joy into my life, as a person and as an artist. And ironically Lydia Lunch’s photograph appears in one the pages of Technical Girls Collective’s calendar all those years ago.

PA:

Pop Culture?

JH:

I had no TV or phone or radio. No one did. I had no money to buy magazines.

I did have a turntable and would play Lou Reed over and over, The Blue Mask and Patti Smith’s Horses.

A couple of years ago I was smoking a cigarette outside a restaurant in New York and Lou Reed walked past me. He gave me a dirty look….hahahaha, I guess perhaps because I was smoking and he had given up. So I smiled at him and he smiled back. His music got me through a lot of pain in the 80’s so I was thrilled to have seen him in the flesh.

Popular culture most impacted me through films at the cinema. And via books from the library and from friends.

I’d spend endless hours researching Andy Warhol and everyone involved in his Factory scene. Edie Sedgwick entranced me.

Recently, I was fortunate to have met Bibbe Hansen, who was the youngest Andy Warhol Superstar and mother of Beck. She was a close friend of Edie, so I was able to get a first hand account of the true essence of Edie, and Andy and the other characters of this exceptionally creative time in New York City.

I remember seeing the film ‘Sid and Nancy’ at a beautiful old cinema in Sydney, which no longer exists. Most of the audience were in the bathroom smoking. It was incredible to see my sub-culture up on screen.

And finally Punk has made it to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York! That means punk is truly over. My opinion of Punk is that it began and died with Sid and Nancy in the Chelsea Hotel, although I know many people would argue with this. New Yorkers say Punk began with Jayne County and the New York Dolls and Malcolm McLaren stole it and marketed it back in London.

PA:

And the idea and growing tendency of DIY in the 1980’s, a 1970’s punk tendency perhaps?

JH:

I was mostly rejected by the mainstream art world because of my subject matter, the sexual assault of women and children and the impact of these experiences on their lives. That kind of art isn’t a valuable commodity.

I saw a lecture by Lydia Lunch at Metroscreen in Paddington in 1997 the one she gave about NO-Wave films in New York City. She said: “Don’t wait for funding or approval by the powers that be, just make the work.”

Amazing and I have followed this advice ever since. Lydia has NEVER received funding by an Arts Body, neither has Penny Arcade. They just make the work.

I had received funding from traditional funding bodies, AFC, NAVA and the Australia Council, which I was incredibly grateful for. But my subject matter continues to be a major block in receiving funding in the last decade, or maybe it’s not that, maybe I’m just not a very good artist…hahahaha.

And I’m certainly dreadful in writing applications. I don’t have a grip on that kind of Art Language, so I’m doomed.

PA:

Tell me in some detail about your participation in the Political Theatre scene in Brisbane at La Bamba (late nights at La Boite, you mentioned La Boite a little earlier, Rock and Roll Circus and related theatres or performing arts groups at the time, perhaps?

JH:

True, I volunteered as a dresser at La Boite Theatre in 81/82. I was still a teenager and didn’t know yet what route I wanted to take as an artist. I just wanted to be involved in the art world somehow. All I really learnt from this period is that some actors have huge difficult egos!

PA:

You mentioned that walking the streets in Sydney, and in London and New York as a teenager, was where you began many of your life long networks, tell me in some detail about the role share houses played for you at the time in terms of artist networks?

JH:

For a while I lived with artist and performer Zoe Long in the Bakers Dozen in Darlinghurst. Zoe was a phenomenal creative talent and way ahead of her time. She performed in the gay bars on Oxford Street in the early 80’s.

No one knew if she was a girl or a boy.

Zoe dressed as Nosferatu day and night with a shaved head. On the few occasions when we were awake during the day and walking around, she would horrify passer-bys. Once a group of office girls were staring at her and saying derogatory things so she chased them into a building.

Once a little boy with a bald head from cancer treatment came up to her in the street and asked her if she had cancer too? She answered that she shaved her head because she liked it. His broad smile made our day.

I would photograph Zoe and attend all her performances. We were indeed vampires, living only at night. Other drag performers would visit the house and I would photograph them too. Madam Lash is another. They were all incredibly talented artists and lived day and night creating costumes and performances.



PA:

The impact of HIV AIDs on you around this time?

JH:

I think AIDS was identified as a disease publicly in Australia around 1984. It had been a reality since 1981 here in NYC.

With HIV AIDS our world became like the Vietnam War. The carnage was traumatic and widespread. So many beautiful and talented artists died horrible and lonely deaths.

And we also had to contend with the barrage of public opinion and horror bestowed upon HIV positive people. Homophobia was rampant, not that it has ever disappeared from Australian culture, and the spectre of HIV AIDS gave homophobes license to be violent.

I have witnessed horribly violent incidences at the Sydney Lesbian Gay Mardi Gras parade. Things I wish I didn’t still have imprinted on my memory. I also remember gangs of heterosexual boys coming in from the suburbs and attacking gay men with baseball bats. I was attacked by skinheads on Oxford Street when I was just walking along with a female friend.

PA:

Your Pre Sydney Exodus: So many creatives left Queensland during this 1980’s period, for you it was the malevolent series of male violence and attack against women, where there other contributing cultural factors of this Bjelke Peterson regime era?

JH:

I also left Brisbane because I couldn’t deal with the extreme conservatism of that city. Also I was a teenager and wanted to leave home. I wanted to go to New York but instead I chose Sydney. It was absolutely the right move for me.

Within a short amount of time I found my soul mates, other punks and artists and musicians. A whole new world opened for me. I found people who accepted me for being me.

I was free of the judgmental nature of the people I went to school and QLD UNI with. I blossomed. We are social creatures and we all need somewhere to belong. And I found my society in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

Read more about Jasmine here >

Jasmine Hirst - The Ephemera INTERVIEWS