Next Wave: Shipping the goods

Lily Hibberd

Conical, re-verb_DAY one, 2004

Conical, re-verb_DAY one, 2004

What better use for 15 shipping containers than as exhibition spaces for a group of artist-run-initiatives (ARI's) from all over Australia? ARI's are typically coordinated by committees of practising artists often numbering up to 12 people, so the biggest problem for each group was effectively displaying work by all members in their designated container. The solutions were diverse and ingenious.

The Upholstery (Cairns) members collaborated by wallpapering the inside of their container then roughly painting outlines of a life-sized couch and 2 windows providing views of beaches with threatening World War II bombers and giant sharks. Platform (Melbourne) gave over their container to a group of designers (Panderosa), who decorated the interior with off-cuts of coloured vinyl. The Farm (Brisbane) allowed a couple of their exhibiting artists to give politics a go with 9/11 propaganda posters. The members of Kings (Melbourne) worked together on a statement about the festival's curatorial theme with vinyl lettering reeling off clever references to unpopular culture. Two artists from Rocketart (Newcastle) made a celestial display from a large backlit panel of wood with tiny holes. Bus (Melbourne) featured the work of Anton Marin, who did an amazing luminescent wire-frame installation using fishing line and UV lighting.

The Network of UnCollectable Artists (Sydney) attracted lots of attention, using their container to sell packets of swap cards depicting “Australia's 50 Most UnCollectable Artists”, including Will and Dave (the protestors who painted “no war” on the Opera House). I was lucky enough to get Bec Dean's LED project, which several people tried to swap for some other unknown artist.

Conical (Melbourne) opened with a collaboration staged by 5 board members. The centrepiece was a generator, an alternate power source that symbolised independence from the mainstream. Thereafter a series of other artists added found materials that were configured into meaningful and playful arrangements with no sign of discrete art objects.

On the other hand, Seventh (Melbourne) used their container as a gallery, allowing Drew Martin's woodwork guitar and speaker unit to be conventionally appreciated. Downtown (Adelaide) also divided the space between the artists, but the artwork was more esoteric. It housed a video projection that was washed out by daylight, but this meant the smallest piece took on greater meaning: Andrew Best's Weeds from paradise comprised tiny plant forms stuck into corners of the container, evoking a wasteland, a powerful reference to the desecration of the South Australian environment.

2004 Next Wave Festival: Unpopular Culture, Containers Project, curator Tristian Koenig, Federation Square, Melbourne, May 18-30

RealTime issue #62 Aug-Sept 2004 pg. Onl

© Lily Hibberd; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 August 2004