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Felt Forum – ARI Remix Living Archives Fieldwork in Adelaide’s artist-run ecology – Field Notes – September 15 2018

Street View –



As part of its 10th anniversary celebrations as an Artist-Run Initiative (ARI) and art gallery in Adelaide FELTspace in conjunction with All Conferences presented a national public program and symposium event FELTforum at ACE Open on Saturday September 15, 2018.

A keynote address by Rayleen Forester (FELTspace founding member, Founder and Co-Editor of fine print magazine) set the tone for the day of lively discussions, contestations and provocations, referring to the current political climate in Adelaide and South Australia, one beleaguered by the violence of severe arts funding cuts.  Rayleen’s keynote also touched on a longer view of Adelaide’s rich experimental arts history with an acknowledgement of one of Adelaide’s many historical independent, artist-run precursors operating in South Australia during the last forty years: Downtown ARI.


The formal panel proceedings identified the passion, enthusiasm and rigour and diversity of models, methods and approaches employed by ARIs operating on the ground today included:


PANEL: Sustaining Practices

How do artforms, value structures and power systems interrelate to create the type of
sector we encounter locally and nationally? Are our ARIs complicit in this system or do
they provide a productive counterpoint?
Andrew Clarke (Founding Member, Floating Goose Studios Inc, Adelaide)
Nancy Downes (Co-Director, FELTspace, Adelaide)
Zoya Godoroja-Prieckaerts (Coordinator, Watch This Space, Alice Springs)
Channon Goodwin (Director, Bus Projects, Melbourne)
Katie Winten (Co-Director, Firstdraft, Sydney)

PANEL: Caring for The Commons

What responsibilities do our Artist-Run spaces/initiatives have to work for the common
good? Do we have a responsibility to champion social justice and work for positive
political change? How does this manifest in overt, subtle, and nuanced ways?
Andrew Clarke (Founding Member, Floating Goose Studios Inc, Adelaide)
Zoya Godoroja-Prieckaerts (Coordinator, Watch This Space, Alice Springs)
Channon Goodwin (Director, Bus Projects, Melbourne)
Hen Vaughan (Co-Director, FELTspace, Adelaide)
Katie Winten (Co-Director, Firstdraft, Sydney)


There is currently a peak in international attention on the social benefit of art and the ethical
accountability of art institutions. What responsibilities do our Artist-Run spaces/initiatives have
to work for the common good? Do we have a mandate to champion social justice causes
through our programs and work for positive political change, or should we remain neutral
actors, focused solely on the business of showing art? How do these concerns manifest
through overt actions or in subtle, holistic processes in our programs?

You can read the full program here ( tba)

The more informal break out discussions continued unpacking the preceding two panel discussions and addressing differing points of view and insights about the Australian artist-run ecology past present future in bigger centres and in smaller regional communities;



Group 1: Building Connections: ARI Relationships
Channon Goodwin, Lauren Abineri
Group 2: Beyond the Arts Sphere: Engaging with Communities
Katie Winten, Andrew Clarke, Hen Vaughan
Group 3: Making Space: The Impact of an ARI
Zoya Godoroja-Prieckaerts, Bernadette Klavins


Perhaps the most engaging discussion was at the after party, as is so often the case with artists attending at formal proceedings and then having an opportunity to reflect in a more relaxed and convivial atmosphere and on this occasion the shenanigans happened at the West Oak Hotel nearby on 208 Hindley Street, Adelaide. From my perspective it was an engaging week all round meeting artists and discussing artist-run ecologies. An absolute privilege to share this fieldwork and week of discussing with curator David Broker, Director of Canberra Contemporary Art Space and Adelaide artist Nick Folland, present day ARI artists including Ray Harris and Monte Masi (previous co-directors of Felt Space ARI), Nicholas Hanisch, Sophie Green and Andrew Clarke from Floating Goose Studios, Kat and Nat from Mixed Spice, Jane Skeer and studio artists at Collective Haunt, Grace Marlowe from Sister,  Stuart Maxted from recently closed ARI Format and Kaspar Schmidt Mumm from recently closed Smock Bureau.


On reflection the forum reminded us there are many shared affinities with artist-runs currently or recently operating today throughout Australia. It reminded us also how scant opportunities their are for artists to actually travel ( rather than be online on social media platform) and to physically connect, to commune and co-mingle in real time in physical places engage face to face, with non-verbal communication and actively sharing ideas, contents and discontents and laughing a lot along the way in the spirit of DIT: doing it together.


In terms of the ongoing ARI Remix Living Archives project research it was meaningful for me to learn that collective interest in the social memories and social histories of ARIs is growing, and that perhaps one of the consolations of Gen X and Millennial co-mingling and cross-pollinating is an interest in a broader, more expansive and longer-term view of social change and social justice. And during those vivid after party conversations to learn from so many artists and arts workers based in Adelaide and in other centre that there are still so many hidden ARI histories to be retrieved and recovered before the current field of Adelaide ARIs, before Downtown ARI and in other places as well. The ARI recover and retrieval is a continuing collective project.


I am feeling truly grateful to be in Adelaide for a unique opportunity for cross pollinating with like minded artists who are equally passionate about ARI agency, collective energies, the shared lens of social justice artists as gatekeepers. Hopefully there will be more opportunities for ARIs and artists to be  DITing at forums like this one. This Felt Forum event reminded us that is indeed true that one of the characteristics of Australian ARI ecology today is an increasing measure of longevity for a handful of Australian ARIs and that this is in some way attributable to the vigil inherent to ARI activism in the recent and not so recent past.

And these longer term ARIs including DVAA in Darwin, Watch This Space in Alice Springs, First Draft in Sydney, Boxcopy in Brisbane continue providing significant and vibrant meeting places, events and professional development opportunities for artists; emerging, mid-career and senior artists. Perhaps it is of some value to be mindful that the greater measure of ARIs are still ephemeral by nature; either by necessity, by fault or by design, and that this characteristic of ARI ephemerality also lends gravitas to any discussion about the ongoing diversification of artist-run ecology. Perhaps it is this very ephemerality that helps keep ARI distinctive and heterogeneous in a neo-liberal climate where the cult of global homogeneity inveigles and prevails.


A current snapshot of SA Adelaide ARIs past present future is currently being grown and broadened ( ever so slowly) at this feature link:

If you have some ARI ephemera, a hidden history and a social memory to share about Adelaide and SA ARIs heritage you can add your story too:

Paul Andrew

ARI Remix Artist and Project Co-ordinator

Adelaide Monday 17 September 2018