An Act of Showing

rethinking artist run initiatives through place

An Act of Showing: rethinking artist-run initiatives through place consists of three parts: an exhibition, an accompanying Roundtable Symposium held during the exhibition at Testing Grounds and a major publication.

The book features newly commissioned essays by Paola Balla, Kirsten Lyttle and Dominic Redfern as well as Chris Kraus’s Kelly Lake Store and creative contributions by ARIs in Australia and the Asia-Pacific, and more. It is designed by Elwyn Murray and published by Unlikely Publishing, Melbourne.

The project is part of Maria Miranda's DECRA research project The Cultural Economy of Artist-run Initiatives in AustraliaThe exhibition is curated by Anabelle Lacroix. The research project is a creative arts project focused on the experiences of artists involved with artist-run spaces in Australia. Over the course of the research, the complex issue of ARIs and place arose. An important influence has been Chris Kraus's small but powerful essay, Kelly Lake Store and Other Stories, a text that speaks to the dilemmas of globalisation and the growing inequality that the current form of globalised capital is creating. For Kraus, as for philosopher Jeff Malpas, "place" and where you are in the world, matters. In the context of our constant connection through the internet, it can seem as if the actual, physical material place has diminished in importance. We're all connected online. No need to worry. It's a global world. 

The proposition of this exhibition and symposium is that, on the contrary, physical, material place is still of the greatest importance. It still matters, even if the ways that it matters are contested and varied. The project aims to provoke discussion around place, place-making, place-responding and a sense of place in relation to artist-run spaces.  What does it mean for artists to have access to local spaces for exhibition and involvement? What are the ways that place impacts on this? What's at stake is that thinking about place can open new ways of understanding and valuing what ARIs do.

A recognition of the importance of place begins to move towards Indigenous understandings of place where the Aboriginal English word Country expresses a complex and profound connection to place.  Given this, another proposition of the project is that by connecting artist-run spaces that are not often included in the tacit understanding of the term ‘artist-run initiative' -- like Aboriginal Art Centres from northern Australia and collective art spaces from the Asia Pacific as well as well-known Indigenous urban art spaces like Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative and Blak Dot Gallery – a rich dialogue will be created foregrounding the importance of place, of being situated in a place. The hope is that a richer understanding will develop of both the diversity of artist’s spaces and the importance of the places where they are located.

For more information about the research visit The ARI Experience research website.

We acknowledge and pay respect to the Traditional Owners of the lands upon which we live and work. And to acknowledge that sovereignty has never been ceded.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body. This research project was funded partially by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council.