Archives for posts with tag: MCA


These responses were recorded as part of the panel discussion Who You Know: Building Networks in the Arts at The Museum of Contemporary Art on June 9th 2012 .An event in partnership with arts interview and VIVID Sydney.

Original panel discussion chaired and transcribed by Eliza Muldoon

Sebastian Goldspink is a Sydney based arts producer, gallerist and artist. In 2011 he opened Alaska Projects in an abandoned mechanics office in a Kings Cross car park and has since held numerous exhibitions in the space. Sebastian’s art practice is street based with a focus on advertising manipulation, he has shown at numerous artist run spaces and internationally. As an arts producer Sebastian has worked for various art organisations including the MCA, MONA and his current role as producer of Art Month Sydney.

You work across a lot of projects and roles, do you bring people with you to work across your various roles? If so, why?

It’s great to work with people that you like, to work with people that have a great work ethic and it’s also good to work with people that are into things that you’re into. Similarly, if you have a problem then you are naturally going to reach for people that have solved problems with you or for you in the past.

You know a lot of people- a lot. How did you meet them all?

I think for me personally it is a number of factors. I’m 40 years old, so I’ve been around for a while. I grew up in Sydney, I’ve never left Sydney and so Sydney is kind of my territory. I’ve worked both in the arts and in the film and TV industry and so I know people form both of those industries.

I think it’s also about being an active participant in the environment that you live in. I make an effort to go and be involved, instead of staying home and watching Game of Thrones I’m out and meeting people.

Has the development of your network been quite natural and organic or have you at times had quite a strategic approach?

I feel like I’m giving away a lot!

I think it’s both. I think sometimes it’s organic, say if I meet fellow panelist Julia (Julia Lenton features next week), we might just start talking about shows, if I meet an artist that I don’t know I’ll ask questions about their work. I’m interested, genuinely interested, and that’s an organic process of gathering information.

At the same time I can be strategic as well. If there is someone that I want to meet then I’ll research that person, I’ll learn information about that person, I’ll ask people in my networks about them too. If an opportunity arises I’ll make sure I have something to say to them. I think it’s a combination of strategy and organic development but I think there’s an opportunity to blend the two and consider strategy in a more organic way.

What advice do you have for those that want to start a relationship with an organisation that they need something from.

With all networking, or whenever you want to get something, it’s really great to think about the other side of the fence, who you are talking to, how does their mind work, what do they need? We set up an arts space in the basement of a Kings Cross car park. First we noticed that there was vacant space and we knew that it had been vacant for some time. We called up the City of Sydney and spoke to the parking services department and told them that we wanted to discuss the possibility of setting up this space. So they came down and met us, and part of their agenda was about public safety- they wanted to make it safer to be in the car park. They asked me if I thought having an art space there would make the car park safer. That was a concern I have never considered. I had never intended to open an art space to make Kings Cross safer, so that informed my future discussions and applications. Assume all councils are risk adverse, they aren’t cowboys, so always ensure that you have a response that is compatible with that.

My final advice on that is do your research. Get to know the organisation.

How important is volunteer work in your work in your opinion?

During my time at the MCA I would sit in on a couple of hundred job interviews a year. Sometimes people would dismiss something as ‘just volunteer work’ because they didn’t get paid, but from my perspective volunteering was an incredibly positive thing. I was actually a bit distrusting of people that had not volunteered. While there aren’t always paid jobs in the arts there a lot of unpaid opportunities and if you want to get a job in the arts you should take advantage of these.

craig walsh

This week renowned Australian digital media artist Craig Walsh talks to arts interview about the impact of diversity on his two year touring artist residency ‘Craig Walsh: Digital Odyssey, a Museum of Contemporary Art touring project’.

Interview by Vanessa Anthea Macris 

How does the technology you utilise in your work help connect with diverse audiences?

I think that technology or tools are always secondary to the concepts that you explore. Having said that, what made a huge difference with Digital Odyssey was the ability to create work digitally and then be able to share it with the community. For example, if we created video projection pieces or documentation of video projection work that we collaborated on with the community, we could actually provide copies of the work to everyone involved. The digital medium allows for sharing and I think that was very practical because it enabled the community to work with it further or utilise it in other ways. Quite often technology can be misused, but in our application it was used really successfully.

Can you give an example of the community you have worked with that went on to use the digital work you created?

Digital Odyssey started off in Murray Bridge, South Australia in February 2010. We worked closely with a group there, who were collecting oral histories from the local new migrant community. Through the process we developed a few projects and one of them was the ‘Home Project’. It was a video portraiture project/assemblage installation relating to the notion of home and what home means to individuals. The installation took place in the local op-shop in town. Following on from the realisation of the work, the concept was taken on by the local oral history group and they applied for grants to get computers and cameras so that they could continue on with the home project. Indeed, the group was able to utilise all the content that we had already developed for the installation while we were there. This way, there was the continuation of the concept, but also I suppose, the skills were shared for e.g. animation techniques that we used. This is just one example of how there was a follow on from the production of a collaborative work, and then how the community took and extended on it.

The Digital Odyssey project really celebrates the diversity of the landscape and population. By responding directly to the environment, was your creative output enhanced or limited?

The way that Digital Odyssey project formed meant that we actually had quite a tight schedule. From the initial project we developed a couple of proposals, which were to be taken as a formal and conceptual structure to each of the communities, but then input from the community actually formed those works to be quite specific and localised. The process was more about developing concepts and a dialogue between these concepts and locations, which became really interesting and important. When we talked to members of the community as part of the Home Project about their notion of home, they obviously responded very differently depending on a location. Responses from people living in Winton, North Queensland compared to Cairns, Ballarat or Hobart are very different. The project in many ways gave individuals in these communities expression through the artwork about their own situation as well as the situation of the community. So it does celebrate diversity, but it celebrates within a context, which is accessible to everyone from every community. This is what is most interesting about these projects; many of them took place in every community and there were different responses based around similar concepts. To me, that shows how diverse these communities are, and I think you only really experience or understand that through doing a project like this and spending large amounts of time in regional Australia.

Can you describe some highlights of the Digital Odyssey project? Did you encounter any elements within your work that seem to guarantee success in terms of the audience engagement?

The project was all consuming and so it is not always easy to identify the benefits or successful elements. We are still going through the vast amount of work that was generated; we created 16 new projects over 18 months. This is a huge body of work and we are still documenting it. Now is the time to distil it, have a look at it and see what it is. A publication will be formed where we can really analyse what took place. For me personally, the opportunity to take this sort of work to regional Australia to develop projects and collaborate closely with regional communities was a really grounding experience. It links me with a sense of place as I perhaps was feeling a little disconnected with the Contemporary art world. It has been a great benefit to me and my practice, and helped me look at what is relative to this continent. Creating work that is relative to Australia, engaging and collaborating with remote communities was a major strength of the project. Other highlights of the project include mentorships with young regional artists, master classes and of course the public outcomes, which affect the broader community. Overall, I feel as though it is an effective model for having a major impact and influence on the communities that we spent time with.

Further reading on arts and diversity: