In Residence ARI – Past Present Future Artist-Runs
By In Residence ARI
What, who, when, why and where is In Residence ARI?
In Residence is an ARI and online publication. Our aim is to showcase, discuss and promote emerging art in Brisbane. This city’s emerging artists are often overlooked, with the large, state-funded arts institutions focusing on established artists and the smaller, commercial galleries often disregarding emerging experimental or cross-disciplinary work. In Residence aims to provide a platform for the diversity of emerging work that’s currently flourishing in the unique cultural and geographical context of our city. This platform takes the forms of an exhibition series and an online publication.
So far in 2016, In Residence has coordinated and presented three exhibitions (Shift 1, Shift 2 and Home 1) in domestic properties in Brisbane’s CBD. We are currently preparing our fourth exhibition, Home 2, which is a part of the Brisbane Artist Run Initiative (BARI) Festival program. Running parallel to the exhibition series is the online publication (http://inresidence-ari.com/), which provides a platform for writing about our exhibiting artists and other emerging arts events, ARIs and practitioners in Brisbane.
Tell me about the name of your collective, are you a collective (if so how so) the story behind the name In Residence? And in some detail about each of you as artists, writers, curators, designers and your practice, methods, media, thematic impulses?
The name of our ARI, In Residence, developed naturally. We all brainstormed for a while, and were drawn to this particular phrase. Our curatorial premise is closely tied to the fact that each exhibition takes place in a different domestic or industrial setting, and we wanted this to be reflected in our name.
The In Residence team consists of four members – Isabel Hood, Meg Slater, Miranda Hine and Sarah Thomson. Isabel, who is currently completing her Masters of Interactive Media Art at the Queensland College of Art (QCA), does all of the incredible design work for the website, social media platforms and printed material. Meg, who is an Art History student at the University of Queensland (UQ), intern and administrative assistant in the Exhibitions Management department at the Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA), is the curator. Miranda, who is currently completing her Masters of Museum Studies at UQ, and who completed her undergrad in Fine Art (Sculpture) at QCA, takes care of the website, and edits all of the written content published by In Residence. Sarah, who is an Art History student at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and intern at the QUT Art Museum, assists in curating the exhibitions, and is responsible for generating all of the marketing material.
Why an artist-run today, what motivated you/compelled you to initiate an artist-run, what type of collective is it? Is it inspired by something or someone in particular, or a time, and art historical moment or thematic impulse perhaps?
Why not start an ARI? It’s not as subversive as it once was – now it’s something you do so you can exhibit more often or experiment with ideas outside a gallery context. It has become so ingrained in Brisbane art culture that it’s the standard means for presenting excess or alternative work for emerging and mid career artists.
We started In Residence as an outlet for what we were doing professionally and in our studies. Most of us were either interning or practicing in the arts, and we wanted to gain experience where we had control over our ideas and decisions. We also wanted to build a framework where artists from multiple backgrounds could adapt their work to varying locations. We’ve always been interested in the unique Queensland aesthetic that really comes through in Brisbane’s architecture, so having shows in residential properties around Brisbane has been a great way to explore that interest further.
The premise of In Residence is that we exhibit in a different location for each show, and each exhibition lasts for only one night, so we’re pretty keen on ephemerality. Our ARI model has a curatorial and publication focus, where we develop curatorial frameworks for each show and approach between four and six artists to be involved. Our online publication and exhibition catalogues connect practice with text, and we try to use the online publication as a platform to promote other Brisbane ARIs and emerging artists. As with all ARIs in Brisbane, we are building off previous collectives whether we are conscious of it or not, but there isn’t any particular person or moment that inspired us to start In Residence.
Tell me in some detail about two or three of your most memorable In residence artist-run projects so far, what you truly loved about them, and what was challenging about them perhaps, what you have learned from these projects that serves you better now?
So far we’ve had three exhibitions with each being quite different from the last. Something we loved about all three exhibitions was the broad range of people who attended. We were quite surprised about how many people outside of our immediate friendship circles and the Brisbane art community came along. We really love that people feel comfortable attending our shows, considering small arts events can sometimes seem quite intimidating from the outside.
A big challenge with our model of ARI is the logistics of installing in different spaces for every exhibition and the short install periods (usually a few hours), which really force us to be resourceful and flexible.
Tell me about your current project in development now and its location, the artists, it’s risque quality, the audience you imagine, for BARI perhaps?
In Residence is currently working on two projects for the BARI Festival. The first project is a series of panel discussions, which will take place at the Brisbane Powerhouse on 13 October 2016. There will be two panel discussions on the same night. One will be chaired by Lisa Bryan-Brown, a Brisbane-based, independent curator and writer, and will provide an introduction to Brisbane’s ARI scene. The other will be chaired by Jenna Baldock, the current curator at Spiro Grace Art Rooms (SGAR), and will explore the history of ARIs in Brisbane, from the 80s through to today.
The second project is an exhibition, Home 2, which will take place for one night only on 21 October, in the Teneriffe Waterhouse. This exhibition will feature the work of four exciting emerging artists based in Brisbane: Teagan Ramsay, Julia Scott Green, Marisa Georgiou and our own Miranda Hine. The exhibition will critique the notion of ideal living in Queensland by investigating the iconic architecture of the Queenslander housing type. Each artist has been asked to respond to a space typically found within, or in close proximity to a Queenslander, by creating an artwork that engages with, and questions the significance of, that particular space. Teagan has chosen the bedroom, Julia the sunroom, Marisa the backyard and Miranda the bathroom.
As with all of our projects, we hope that these events for the festival draw in a crowd of people we have never met before. One of In Residence’s chief aims is to break out of the enclaves that tend to form within Brisbane’s close-knit art community, and reach a more diverse audience.
There seems to be an abundance of artist-runs unfolding/generating in Brisbane this year, what is happening, why and how and where? Tell me about a few you like heaps and why so?
Some really exciting ARIs currently operating in Brisbane are Busy Brick and The Laundry Artspace. Each of these spaces came out of a definitive need for them – the Laundry put on The Laundry Art Prize and GAS Leak as alternatives to the exclusive Churchie Art Prize and the cancelled QCA Graduate Art Show. Busy Brick came out of the realisation that their GOMA GSO colleagues were making an incredible amount of work but had nowhere to show it. Filling spaces like that is what makes an ARI an essential part of the cultural landscape. They are also presenting brilliantly organised and curated shows, which showcase tens of artists at a time. They’re the kind of shows where you see links between disparate works that you’d never have seen outside of the domestic, overcrowded context.
And so many different models and methods being used today all around the world, tell me about the In Residence artist-run model, what distinguishes it most of all from other artist runs in Brisbane/Queensland today ( locations, artists, types of events/projects, networking/publicity/media etc) in SE Qld, Brisbane Toowoomba, Gold Coast etc? And why you feel artist-runs matter, and why the diversity of artist-run ecosystem we are experiencing today matters?
In Residence has two main points of difference. The first point of difference is the exhibition space, or lack thereof. Unlike most of the ARIs currently operating in Brisbane, we do not have a single space in which we stage our exhibitions. Each show so far has taken place in a different domestic or industrial space. Originally, we adopted this model out of necessity – we simply didn’t have access to a space that we could consistently utilise for exhibition purposes. Over time, it has become one of the core components of the way In Residence operates. We have grown to love selecting the space for each show, and the challenge associated with curating exhibitions that mould to those spaces without compromising the integrity of the domestic environment. The second point of difference is our focus on writing, which is manifested through our online publication. Most of the members of In Residence have a strong background in research and writing, and are keen to cultivate this skill by crafting reviews, artist interviews and catalogue essays.
In terms of what distinguishes the ARI model in Brisbane from ARI models elsewhere in Australia, it is the physical environment. We have access to unique domestic properties in which we are able to stage dynamic and innovative exhibitions of work by emerging artists. Other cities lack the architecture of the Queenslander, and the ample space that comes with it. A lack of institutional support is also characteristic of the ARI scene in Brisbane, which is evidenced by the fact that a large number of the city’s ARIs are short-lived. This can be contrasted with the status of ARIs in other Australian cities like Melbourne and Sydney, where spaces like Bus Projects and Firstdraft have operated out of permanent sites for an extended period of time. Funnily enough, it is this lack of recognition from the government and state-funded bodies that makes the ARI such an important part of the art and culture community in Brisbane.
Did you guys manage to visit the Ephemeral Traces exhibition about 1980s Brisbane artist-runs at the University of Qld Art Museum April- July this year, what did you love or indeed not love about this exhibition? What was astonishing about the exhibition, what did you learn, did it inspire you in some measure perhaps? Did it challenge you? What lingers in your memory?
We loved the show, and you should look out for Miranda’s review in the next edition of the Journal of Asia Pacific Pop Culture. Ephemeral Traces was fantastic because it provided a perspective of Brisbane’s recent history that people had never seen before – a sort of alternative history of art organisations and groups operating within the city throughout the 80s that a lot of people living in Brisbane probably had very little knowledge about. It was inspiring to see how adventurous and subversive these groups artists were in forging their own space in the arts landscape of Brisbane and critiquing existing institutions. It was also interesting to view the the ephemera associated with these projects displayed in one of the very institutions they sought to challenge. It was a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the legacy we’ve been left with.
Brisbane has such a wellspring of artist-run heritage since the late 1979s, in a similar way, what are your enjoying about remix.org.au ARI Remix Project, Living Archives, Artist-run archives 1980-1990, or indeed not enjoying about the archive as it develops now, and do you feel it is useful today in some way(s), how so, why so ?
Documenting the activities of ARIs is incredibly important because of their ephemerality. Many of the shows that ARIs put on often only last of a couple of hours, and the only evidence that they actually took place is a printed catalogue or a picture on social media. The ARI Remix Project is particularly significant because it involves recording, in detail, the intricacies associated with running an ARI in Brisbane. This archive is an incredibly important resources because it ensures that the social, cultural and political impacts of ARIs in Brisbane through the ages will not be forgotten.
What enticing bits n pieces is In Residence planning for later 2016 and 2017? And tell me about the upcoming BARI Festival why it matters, and do you have a vivid memory from an earlier BARI festival that continues to inspires you?
At the moment, In Residence is focusing all of its efforts on the panels and the exhibition for the BARI Festival, which is both new and exciting, because, as a fairly new ARI, we have never participated in the festival before. Everything that we’ve heard about previous iterations of the project has purely been through word of mouth, so we are excited to see it all first hand this time round. Once the projects we have been working on for the festival are done and dusted, we will finally get the chance to sit down, regroup, and hopefully develop an exciting exhibition and writing program for 2017.
What do you love about artist-runs, do you like/love their informality/informalness? 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 the more formal -and indeed solvent – institutional spaces like the IMA or GOMA don’t offer or provide?
The informality is great. The ‘threshold fear’ of an art gallery and museum is a real problem for first-time visitors, which we sometimes forget about working in the arts. Having a relaxed, familiar, chatty environment with alcohol and people in shorts and a T-shirt tends to dissolve the barriers that museums put up. Sometimes the opposite can happen though – it can get too small and too exclusive and people won’t be comfortable walking into a stranger’s backyard. There’s a definite balance that we have to be conscious of.
We’re certainly not worried for the future of ARIs, particularly in Brisbane, because they’ll be something that never really goes away. The necessity for them has persisted this long, and we can’t see that fading. Even if Brisbane suddenly becomes the cultural capital of the world and every artist and arts group is overfunded, we’ll still need safe spaces to experiment and collaborate.
The most obvious value that ARIs provide over established institutions is a developmental space for artists, curators and writers. Not everyone’s work is best suited to the gallery context; some works thrive beyond expectation projected onto a living room wall, or on the dirt floor under a house. I think there’s also the freedom not to get it right, for both artists and curators, which there is not in institutions like QAGOMA.
Additionally, QAGOMA and other state-funded art institutions tend to only take a very small number of interns at a time, and most commercial galleries are employing so few people, so there are all these incredibly qualified curators and writers and researchers who don’t want to stop doing what they’re doing even though they may not be able to find work. ARIs are a great way to refine our knowledge and experience even when no institution will support us (or pay us). They are inclusive ventures. Anyone can start an ARI.
Tell me about your experience of the Homeground Boxcopy project this year, what did you love about it, did it challenge you, if so how so?
It was such an interesting and topical project that introduced a new model for collaborative exhibition making that we hadn’t seen before. It was fantastic to see different artists and groups building upon and responding to each other’s work, creating a process-based dialogue across different ARIs and artists to hopefully create a stronger arts community in Brisbane. The scoreboard seemed like a cheeky reminder of the growing competition for spaces, grants, and support in the Queensland art scene.
Small scale artists organisations and indeed professional artists who work for the greater measure as “sole traders” are not afforded the same recognition, investment, publicity and promotion opportunities as old institutions and large scale arts organisations do, what do you feel about this, why is this so, what can be done to change this? And do you feel there is a need for an local arts advocacy body in Brisbane, not unlike the Queensland Artworker’s Alliance or like the national organisation NAVA to address these professional challenges in the field, what other challenges do you see now, that need attention and social change?
There is certainly an obvious gap between individual, emerging artists practicing in Brisbane, and larger, state-funded institutions like QAGOMA. The best way to bridge this gap is for the larger galleries to look at opening their doors to emerging Queensland artists in a more substantial way. While the introduction of a local arts advocacy body could assist in facilitating this process, some major, top-down changes need to be made. This could be achieved by larger galleries doing call-outs for exhibition proposals by Queensland-based artists, and by fostering more direct relationships with ARIs in Queensland.
What excites you most about this year’s BARI festival line up, why so?
While we are incredibly excited about the exhibition programme that has been developed for BARI Festival, which will feature some incredible shows coordinated by our friends at The Laundry Artspace, CLUTCH Collective, and many other ARIs, we are also keen to deliver the panels that we have been working on. As they’re to be hosted by the Powerhouse, the panels will provide an excellent opportunity for the general public to learn more about the significance of ARIs in Brisbane.
2016 BARI Festival