The ARI Remix project is largely driven by social media engagement and it 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 study, education, research and development of the Ephemeral Traces exhibition curated by Peter Anderson at the University of Queensland Art Museum and the collaborative ARI Remix Living Archive Past Present Future located here. These two projects are independent but delightfully entangled and interrelated projects. They are being generated in collaboration through shared research, study and dialogue to enhance the knowledge base with artist histories to produce a broader more inclusive andd diverse social history moving forward, we believe in the power of the chorus and its heartfelt songlines.
Read More about the Ephemeral Traces exhibition and to read about the impact of the ARI Remix Project so far visit the following issuu links too:
Joanna Kambourian & Linda Dement
Consultant – Paul Andrew, Editors – Brian Doherty & Jane Richens
The ARI Remix Collective – Over 300 of the 1980-1990 Queensland born or Queensland based artists directly engaged in artist-run activism
noun. An artist-run initiative is any project run by visual artists to present their and others’ projects. They might approximate a traditional art gallery space in appearance or function, or they may take a markedly different approach, limited only by the artist’s understanding of the term. …“Artist-run means initiating exchange; emphasizing cross and inter-disciplinary approaches to making art; developing networks; through curation, putting creative ideas and arguments into action”
Catalyst Arts (1996), Life/Live, Paris: Musée d’Art Moderne, p. 45
“To borrow a definition from LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre), the ‘living’ archive’s aim is not to bury the past in boxes or databases for posterity, but to “unearth fresh forms of thinking from what has gone before” (2010, online). The ‘living’ component of this archival framework is thus twofold: on the one hand it is about access as it encourages researchers to make connections between materials and to map out their own archival journeys in hopes of “revealing new ways of looking at the future by examining the past” (LIFT 2010, online). On the other hand, it is also about survival, in opposition to death, loss, and destruction, by way of engaging with the traces and remnants that live on. But just what constitutes digital traces online and how traces are retrieved remains one of the dominant conundrums of the online archive…” ( http://archinodes.com/node/168)
“a set of practices which takes as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space.”
(Bourriaud 2002: 113)
In the popular imagination 1980’s Queensland is often touted as the “Police State” years, a decade of menace during the final leg of an oppressive twenty-year right wing regime. Queensland under the Joh Bjelke-Petersen Government was known locally, nationally and internationally for many things, most particularly for its inappropriate police powers and extensive police brutalities, for citizen disappearances, for deaths in custody, for state-sanctioned disavowal of dissent, of community consultation and collaboration, for its hubris surrounding truthful media reportage and public accountability, for its gross disregard of civil liberties and human rights, for its vehement disregard for refugees, disregard for racial diversity, for transgender politics, for homosexuality, for feminism, for migration, for refugees and perhaps most pernicious of all, for its anti-integration policies, its desecration of the social and ecological frameworks that formed the cornerstone of an ancient aboriginal heritage at the heart of Queensland’s rich, diverse arts and culture history.
Queensland was a police state in absolute denial of aboriginal land rights, a state regime that promoted the sale of aboriginal lands and sacred sites to foreign investors; to boost uranium and natural resources mining, to boost corporate and private investment. This regime dismissed, abused, vilified, demonised and derided the world’s oldest living culture.
During this spectre both the Bjelke Peterson regime, the Brisbane City Council under the iron fist of Lord Mayor Sally Ann Atkinson (1985-1991) and a gang of corporate pundits produced a Disney-like Expo 88 to show “the world” how truly global Brisbane was at the time. This glossy Expo veneer featured the normative dominant history, in this case one presided over by an gargantuan Frilled Neck Lizard and a spectacle produced at great public expense as a way, perhaps, of masking menace. Nothing like a smokescreen….
The wake of legislative atrocities, vice and corruption, mass midnight heritage demolitions, widespread urban renewal, roads and infrastructure, private property development and gentrification, the removal and displacement of communities including the homeless, the sick, the poor and most of all at the expense of diverse and formative inner city arts and culture communities. These communities included the artist-runs proliferating during this decade in strikingly similar ways to what was happening globally in artist-run and DIY in places like the East Village in Downtown New York City, the Docklands areas of London in Canada in cities like Toronto and the cracks and fissures in other major urban and regional centres around the globe.
Expo 88 presented a formidable “high-tech” masquerade to the world, all glitz, all glamour, all big things, gadgetry and sparkles under the pretense of global awareness at the cusp of the digital age, an awareness at the time filtered through the lens of xenophobia, racism, homophobia and a grand disconnect from the day to day realities of local communities, perhaps?
In this frame, this brand of attitude global meant western, first world, white, male heterosexual, privilege, status, hubris, power and ultra-conservativism. An attitude formulated at the expense of local colour, community engagement, community consultation, collaboration and a diverse range of diverse social and cultural histories unfolding during the 1980’s. Ironically Expo 88 at the time also provided many significant employment opportunities to Queensland artists and co-creatives and in turn ushered in a wave of creative energies and artistic talents from interstate that enlivened the arts and culture scene in South East Queensland over many years to follow.
Fortunately, today 1980’s Queensland is also known for many other inspirational things including the early inception of the Southbank Cultural Precinct in 1985 and in 1989 The Fitzgerald Inquiry which brought justice and favour to Queensland from both inside and from the outside the state once again. These pressure cooker years behind the Banana Curtain spawned a proliferation of live bands, music scenes, performance art, spoken word, performance poetry and DIY recordings that had truly captured the global attention economy in significant ways long before Expo 88.
Arguably, while there has been a long and pithy media stream chronicling dissent, civil disobedience and Queensland counter-culture it is only now that these broader interpretations of history are coming to light in more amplified, considered and measured ways. For example, in recent years the lively and anarchic 1970’s and 1980’s indie music scenes in Queensland which spawned bands like The Saints, The Black Assassins, The Leftovers, Razar, Xero, The Riptides and The Go-Betweens are receiving a considered and long overdue examination and revision of their formations and popular impact, producing legacies in academia, in the media and in popular culture on a global scale.
In a recent ABC TV documentary Stranded, 2015 screened in September this year and most particularly in the short testimonies of musicians John Willsteed and Irena Lukas there was mention made of an intellectual/ art impulse that was beginning to influence and inflect the Brisbane music scene in the early 1980s. This intellectual/art impulse was not unpacked in considered detail in the ABC TV documentary and is this is in some measure where the ARI Remix Project is located, in aim, in scope and in motivation.
That is to say, this project is motivated by mapping the unmapped, untold, invisible, neglected stories of the artist-runs during the Banana Curtain years.
In the ABC TV documentary musician Anne Jones sums up these diverse proliferations of difference during a series of vivid anecdotes, along the lines of while all the Brisbane Bands were idiosyncratic in tenor, approach, sounds and styles to the shifting ground of popular music, they shared one thing in common and it was this absurd state of oppressive rule that prevailed in Queensland. The same applies to the diversity of artist-runs during the period. From the collectives of artists organizing around the Student Union administered and funded Activities located at the University of Queensland, the artist studios and events held at Red Comb House in Roma St in the early 1980’s at the vibrant One Flat exhibitions and events in both Edmonstone Street, South Brisbane and George Street locations, A Room in George Street in 1984 and mid-eighties artist-run spaces which built upon these DIY foundations including That Contemporary Art Space, The Observatory, John Mills National, Axis Art Projects, Bureau Arch Lane Public Art, A Glass of Water and Galerie Brutal.
Arguably, these histories are considerably less well known in the popular imagination.
A clear understanding, awareness and alertness to this artistic and intellectual impulse referred to in the Stranded documentary, is arguably an impulse produced by each of the artist-runs. DIYs directly intermingling with this efflorescence of the music and performativity scenes, with popular culture, with media and throughout the many platforms comprising the arts and culture sector at the time, this cross-pollinating, accessible and inclusive impulse is the tenor of the times and is in this current re-iteration is now the method of this artist-run, the ARI Remix Project.
While there is much ado about how oppressive this regime was in Queensland , for artists there is a shared feeling that the regime receives too much credit for producing these cultural proliferations, what is often not in these conversations about oppression, is what artists collectively viewed at the time as an even more insidious menace than the state, that 1980’s Queensland was a cultural backwater, a cultural and artistic vacuum, vastly out of step with developments in art and popular culture elsewhere around the globe, and a place that you left and didn’t call home. Added to this climate was that both small and large-scale arts institutions, often with appointees from overseas or interstate, largely favored artists from anywhere else other than Queensland. It was as if Brisbane and Queensland didn’t exist and the old war chestnut about “the Brisbane Line” was still a prevailing attitude. in both their acquisitions and curatorial programming policies and in writing for the canon, these vexing practices and attitudes still exist today in some measure, a long outmoded idea that good art comes from outside of Queensland and that good artists leave Queensland.
Then and today artist-runs rail against these long held beliefs, traditions and attitudes, against the primacy of commercial galleries perpetuating and canonizing these outmoded traditions and throughout the decade 1980-1990 artists together, through a diverse range of activisms, networks, spaces and places, built upon, broadened and extended an impulse that had been awakening en masse since the 1960’s, the dematerialization of the art object. Until now in the digital economy this 1980’s historical proliferation of artist-runs, unprecedented in Queensland social history has remained largely invisible, hidden, forgotten and neglected. This is a lo fi community collaborations public archive designed for Word Press, and is one simple step in beginning to collectively address these neglected and hidden histories. One we hope may in turn become a useful legacy model for artist-run communities around the globe.
While the focus here is primarily on Queensland-born or Queensland-based artists during this decades of oppression, given that many of these artists fled Queensland during the oppressive Bjelke-Petersen regime; a characteristic unique to Queensland in Australian Political History; an important aim of the ARI REMIX project to begin to map the diverse ways and means this exodus has since produced and impacted upon Artist-run culture elsewhere, interstate, overseas in the global economy and in so doing foreground artist histories that can, perhaps, perhaps, perhaps, contest, enhance, extend and nuance dominant histories.
Website copyright information.
This website contains information, data, documents, pages, photographs, audio, video and images (‘the material’) prepared by the ARI Remix Project which is a collaborative memory and living archives project of Queensland /Australia 1980-NOW artist-run heritage and culture for the purposes of documenting the vibrant, diverse, neglected and under-valued and un-valued DIY collaborations of the region.
Kindly include your contact details, provenance details, contextual information, appropriate credits, url links, tags and acknowledgements or if you prefer kindly request for its removal from the archive. Thanks for your interest, enthusiasm and shared passion for helping us redress the blind spot of artist-run heritage in the local global arts and culture canon, thanks for reading, thanks for your care, your attention and for participating, thanks for sharing in the spirit of open-source social and cultural change and digital community engagement and strengthening.