Tag Archives: Melbourne

Who makes it? A credit crunch for creative labour

Production of work in Hosier Lane for Manifest (ACCA, 2004) a Zaishu project by Matthew Butler

South Ways is a lateral conversation about alternative platforms for creative practice that are particular to the South. The first roundtable in Wellington concerned the connection to Māori practices of koha, or gift-giving, and the emerging field of ‘social practice’. This raised the need to frame creative works so that they might be reciprocated appropriately. The second roundtable in Melbourne dealt with the process of commodification and alternative ways of revealing the otherwise hidden labour that contributes to the cultural product.

The Melbourne roundtable was informed by the work of Boaventura de Sousa Santos, who articulated an epistemology of the South where ‘preference must be given to the form of knowledge that guarantees the greatest level of participation to the social groups involved in its design, execution, and control and in the benefits of the intervention.’ (Santos, 2007)

The roundtable discussed different models for art that reflects the social relations in its production. Matthew Butler presented the Zaishu Project as an attempt to create work that straddles art and design by giving participants a stake in the outcome. Inspired partly by street art in Chile, the project emerged in 2004 when the City of Melbourne with John So as mayor was cracking down on street art. Lanes were continually painted a band of white to deter stencil artists from leaving their work overnight. One day, Butler lined a lane with cheap construction site plywood and with help of curator Andy Mac invited street artists to work on them in a clandestine stencilling event. The results were exhibited as a pop up exhibition in the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, along with DJ. The plywood was laser cut into slot together components to form the 52 stools and each artist was given one made from a random selection of works. The project has since involved hundreds of artists and gone on to include communities that include Bollywood poster painters in India, tribal artists in Fiji and is planned to go to Fitzroy Crossing in a project with Aboriginal youth.

Other projects were discussed:

  • An exhibition of art by refugees to Melbourne will give over curatorial control to the participants (Damian Smith and Trinidad Estay)
  • Work that uses the Mexican walking fish axolotl as a metaphor for cultural crossing (Diego Ramirez)
Installation shot from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action' Sutton Gallery 2013

Installation shot from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action' Sutton Gallery 2013

Ian Burn (1939 - 1993), Documentary wall 1967 - 1996, Digital print, 120 x 150 cm, from 'The Artist and the Social Order' exhibition UWS Art Gallery 2009

Ian Burn (1939 - 1993), Documentary wall 1967 - 1996, Digital print, 120 x 150 cm, from 'The Artist and the Social Order' exhibition UWS Art Gallery 2009

There was broad discussion of artistic labour as a hidden component of public life. This included reflection on the pressure placed on the Sydney Biennale in the 1980s to feature more art and working life, led by artists such as Ian Burn. (Geoff Hogg)

Nathan Gray reflected on the criticism that artists who boycotted the Sydney Biennale because of Transfield sponsorship should also reject anything that has government funding. First, he argued that government funding is public money to be used for common good. ‘You wouldn’t think of banning someone from Medicare because they were critical of Julia Gillard.’ Second, as a payment for services, the artists are in a position of subsidising events such as the biennale. During discussions between the participating artists about the boycott, it was revealed that both Australian and international artists were paid the same rate of $1,500. This discussion highlighted the unpaid contribution many provide for an event that contributes to the value for sponsors such as Transfield.

To build on this discussion, the project What I got paid? was proposed where artists submit information about how much they were paid for their labour. Similar to the Wikileaks strategy, the purpose is to weaken the structures of power that are built on secrecy through a flood of classified information. This would open up lines of conversation by artists about the value of their labour. There is potential for such a venture to now only include information about payments, but also attribution, as the contribution of many technicians and craftspersons to creative products often go unrecognised.

Ceri Hann 'Paradigm Shifter' hermeneutic object

Ceri Hann 'Paradigm Shifter' hermeneutic object

In general, the sentiment of the roundtable was to support art that open about its sources of production. One means of revelation is from the bottom up, through platforms where producers can share information about their contribution to cultural products.


Ceri Hann, Damian Smith, David  Corbet, Diego Ramirez, Geoff Hogg, Laura Carthew, Matthew Butler, Nathan Gray, Nikki Lam, Trinidad Estay


  • Santos, Boaventura de Sousa. 2007. “Beyond Abyssal Thinking: From Global Lines to Ecologies of Knowledges.” Eurozine, July 26
  • ‘Code of Practice for Partnerships in Craft & Design’ Sangam Project 2013

Ping Pong: Colombia – Australia Cultural Connections through Visual Arts

Ping Pong: Colombia – Australia Cultural Connections through Visual Arts

7-30 November at RMIT Design Hub

The Embassy of Colombia in Australia, Multicultural Arts Victoria (MAV), and RMIT University are proud to present Ping Pong, a pioneering international cross-cultural visual arts project where visual artists in Colombia partner up with artists in Australia, China and India.

This project is part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ “Plan de Promoción de Colombia en el Exterior”, which promotes the country overseas through its cultural expressions.

The Ambassador of Colombia in Australia, Mrs. Clemencia Forero, looks forward to this project that will lead to a cultural exchange between Colombia and Asia Pacific countries: “Projects like Ping Pong strengthen cultural bonds and raise awareness on drawing, one of the most outstanding expressions of Colombia’s current artistic scenario. We are very proud of presenting this project in Melbourne.”

Exhibition 7-30 Nov

Opening: Thursday 7 of November at 11.00 am. Everyone welcome but RSVP is essential to [email protected]
Exhibition dates: Thursday 7 November – Saturday 30 November
Venue: RMIT Design Hub (Bldg 100), Design Research Institute Long Room, Level 9, Corner Swanston & Victoria St

Conference Colombia – Australia: Cultural Connections in the 21st Century.
Everyone welcome but RSVP is essential to [email protected]
Date: Friday 8 November
Time: 9:30-4:00pm
Venue:RMIT Design Hub Level 3 (Bldg 100), Lecture Theatre

Presented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Colombia in partnership with RMIT University and Multicultural Arts Victoria. Supporters: Arts Victoria, City of Melbourne

Image: Jorge Julian Aristizabal, Bathos/Trivialidad 2013, image courtesy of the artist

Nicholas Mangan–recreate the past for the future

Installation shot from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Installation shot from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Nicholas Mangan is a Melbourne artist with a strong interest in the material histories of the Pacific. His previous show at Sutton Gallery Nauru, Notes from a Cretaceous World concerned the history of phosphate mining in the remote Pacific island, which had become a processing centre for asylum seekers (see article). His recent show, Progress in Action, concerns struggle in 1988 by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army to close the Panguna Copper mine which was polluting their island.

Copper plate from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Copper plate from Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Mangan’s strategy is to re-stage the BRA’s attempts to cope with the blockage of food and energy by developing new modes of self-sufficiency. Locals took to the ubiquitous coconut as a resource to sustain their existence (as told in the film Coconut Revolution). Mangan learned how to extract oil from the coconut which could then be refined as a fuel to power a generator. This energy was then used to project a film documentary montage from the time. Alongside the installation and performance were copper plates, reproducing publications such as the Bougainville Copper annual report.

Mangan’s work follows that of others who seek to re-enact past struggles, such as Tom Nicholson. What’s particularly interesting here is the contemporary relevance of the energy system that he re-creates, showing the way in which the necessity of deprivation can lead to the invention of renewable energies. As Mangan says,

Beyond the politics or history for me it always comes back to the core materials that are formed or sculpted by an ideological determination, like copper being used for capitalist extraction or the coconuts being used as the agency for an eco-revolution.

In Australia, this has particular meaning as a challenge to the way neighbouring Melanesian region can be dismissed as an ‘arc of instability’. It ranks alongside the television series Straits as a way of imaginatively connecting the continent to the oceanic web in which it is embedded.

Installation shot of documentary projection in Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Installation shot of documentary projection in Nicholas Mangan 'Progress in Action'

Mangan’s work also opens up a particularly southern strategy for art making, in revealing the means of production. Exposing the supply chain works against the commodification of art by revealing the process that lies behind the product. It sociology it demonstrates the kind of creative potential in the ecological knowledge outlined by Boaventura de Sousa Santos.

Of course, it could go further. The exhibition itself is lacking a relational dimension. There is no active role played by people in Bougainville today. If only Mangan had the opportunity to visit Bougainville himself, and find ways in which they might like to become actively involved in his work.

Fortunately, the project is far from over. Mangan is in the process of shipping the installation to Brazil, where it will feature in the Mercosul Biennial at Porto Alegre. According to the curatorial statement, the biennial

gathers works together that explore different kinds of atmospheric disturbances propelling travel and social displacement, technological advancement and world development, vertical expansions in space, and transversal explorations through time.

This seems a perfect fit for Mangan and an important opportunity to have an Australian artist represented in this key South American event.

Kim Scott: “Language & Nation”

An important event not to miss if you are in Melbourne on 25 July:

Kim Scott: “Language & Nation”
Hosted by Australian Indigenous Studies, School of Culture and Communication, Faculty of Arts

Professor Kim Scott of Curtin University is  one of Australia’s most signi?cant authors.   His major works That Deadman Dance (2011),  Benang (1999) and True Country (1993) have  received a host of literary prizes including the Miles Franklin Literary Award, Victorian  Premier’s Literary Award, Commonwealth  Writers Prize, and Western Australian  Premier’s Book Award. Professor Scott has also been named West Australian of the Year  2012 for his work in Indigenous language regeneration as well as his contributions to Australian literature.

Professor Scott’s fiction is uncompromising in its identification and contestation of  reader expectations of Indigenous writing  and authorship. His command of Nyoongah,  Aboriginal, Australian and English literary forms produces complex narratives about  intimacy, identity and history in the Australian context. This combined with his work in the  area of Indigenous language revitalisation creates new possibilities for communication  and expression. Professor Scott’s masterful use of genre and social commentary calls  for a new type of reader who is willing to engage in breaking down existing codes of  representation, politics and repression that  continue to operate in contemporary Australian  society.

In a wide-ranging address Professor Scott will bring together his concerns with Indigenous cultural renewal though language revitalisation and the role of literature in an evolving vision of Australia in the twenty-first century. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2012
7.00pm – 8.00pm
The Basement Theatre
Spot Building
The University of Melbourne
Admission is free. Bookings are required. Seating is limited.
To register visit: http://alumni.online.unimelb.edu.au/kimscott

Southpaw launch–a new literary journal

South Paw Order Form



You are invited to the launch of a new literary journal
Southpaw: writing from the global south

To be launched by
Professor Stephen Knight
Wednesday 14th December
Arena Project Space
2 Kerr Street Fitzroy
6.30 pm


All welcome

Southpaw # 1 features writing from and about Australia, Africa, China, Philippines, South America and the Pacific around the theme of displacement. It includes essays on the idea of South, power shifts in East Arnhem Land, change and development in Philippines, UFOS in South America and displacement in Colombia fiction and creative non-fiction from Angola, Australia, China, New Zealand, South Africa and Suriname; reviews of Tamil pulp fiction, Indigenous graphic novels and documentaries from the Pacific. There’s an Ainu fable re-told, a radio play and poetry from many places in the global South, much of it in new translation.

Further information: 9416 0232 or 0418 304 500.

Word, Image, Action: Popular Print And Visual Cultures

Tuesday 7th June – Wednesday 15th June 2011 

FESTIVAL OPENING @ North Melbourne Town Hall,  Tuesday 7th June, from 6pm
Music by Little John (duo)
2011 Thesis  Eleven Annual Lecture with Ron Jacobs and Eleanor Townsley Media,  Intellectuals and the Public Sphere
Opening Dinner @ The Institute of  Postcolonial Studies 8:40pm (RSVP essential, by 30th May, contact details  below)
PRINT AND VISUAL CULTURES WORKSHOP @ La Trobe  University, Bundoora campus, Wednesday 8th June –Friday 10th, 9:30am –  4/6pm
A 3 day series of lectures, invited papers, plenaries, film  screening, art exhibition, artists discussion, and live performance from punk  art band ‘This Histrionics’.
WIKILEAKS FORUM @ The Wheeler  Centre, Monday 13th June 3-5pm
Does Wikileaks Matter? A forum on  Wikileaks with Robert Manne, Guy Rundle, Peter Vale and Eleanor  Townsley

@ State  Library of Victoria, Experimedia Room, Tuesday 14th June, 4-8pm
Half-day  public forum on the work of Zygmunt Bauman with speakers from The Bauman  Institute, Leeds and The Thesis Eleven Centre; followed by world premiere  screening of ‘The Trouble with Being Human These days’ by Director Bartek  Dziadosz. Concludes with reflections on ‘The Trouble with Being Human These  days’ from Zygmunt Bauman in conversation with Keith Tester
trailer: http://www.beinghumanthesedays.com

Christopher Pinney Impressions of Hell: Printing and Punishment in  India @North Melbourne Church Hall, Saturday 11th June, 7:30pm hosted by  The Institute of Postcolonial Studies
Ron Jacobs The Media Narrative in  the Global Financial Crisis @Melbourne University, Monday 13th June,  6:30pm, followed by dinner and drinks, hosted by the TASA Cultural Sociology  Group
Anders Michelsen Atrocious imagination: the paradox of affect –  the imagination of violence Keynote for Violence and the Imagination  Colloquium@Monash University, Caulfield Campus, Wednesday 15th June, 9  -10:30 am Program: http://arts.monash.edu.au/ecps/conferences/violence-imagination/
PUBLIC FILM SCREENING @State Library of  Victoria, Experimedia Space, Wednesday 8th June, 6 – 8pm
Public screening  of Robert Nery’s documentary ‘In 1966 the Beatles came to Manila’  

@LUMA, Glenn College La Trobe  University, Bundoora, Friday, 10th June 4-6pm
Asks how contemporary artists  remobilise vernacular cultures to interrogate and mediate the cultural ethics  of globalisation, as they engage themes including surf culture, tattoo  designs, informal architecture and colloquial language.
Curators Lecture  by Ryan Johnston, and discussion with local artists
With Punk Performance  Band ‘The Histrionics’ and the Boombox Burgers Taco Truck
FILM  AND VIDEO EXHIBITION: A POST BOOM BEIJING @Bendigo Visual Arts Centre,  View Street, Sunday 12th June 12:30 -4pm
Day trip to the Bendigo Visual  Arts Centre, including viewing of Arena: A post boom Beijing, film and  video exhibition.
Curators lecture by Laurens Tan.
Walking tour of Melbourne laneways, street art  and installations as well as local art and moving image museums (limited  places available, booking essential. Contact details below)  

@ La Trobe University  Bundoora, Wednesday 15th June, 10am – 5:30pm
Settler Societies And Popular Culture Various  speakers, including Marilyn Lake, Peter Vale, Patrick Wolfe and Anthony Moran  will discuss the popular cultures of settler societies, exploring issues of  race particularly, and looking comparatively across the experiences of  different settler societies.
Keywords Masterclass   Inspired by Raymond Williams Keywords (1983), thirteen thinkers will talk each about their chosen or nominated keyword, approaching  their topics in terms of traditional keywords (socialism, liberalism); 20th  century innovations (such as the postmodern and schemata); or exploring the  currency of other words (such as utopia, the migrant, regions, urbanism, walking and metanoia).

Festival of  Ideas Project
Thesis Eleven Centre for Cultural Sociology
La Trobe  University
ph: +613 9479 2700
fax: +613 9479 2705
email: [email protected] <outbind://95/[email protected]>

Stepping forward to the past: William Barak and William Dawes

Thursday 12 August 7:30-9pm, Institute of Postcolonial Studies

A conversation between Tony Birch and Ross Gibson

Two figures from the early days of the Australian colony that have fresh relevance today – an English scientist at the founding of Sydney and an indigenous leader at the birth of Melbourne.



William Dawes arrived on the First Fleet as the official astronomer. After arriving, he developed a close relation with the Eora people and learned their language. In the South, Dawes experienced a kind of intellectual upheaval whereby he began to understand the world in a non-hierarchical, fluid and relational way that contradicted most of the rectitude that he’d been trained in. 


William Barak was a Wurundjeri man and member of the party that met John Batman in the ‘purchase’ of the Melbourne area. During subsequent colonisation, Barak fought to protect Coranderrk, a self-sufficient Aboriginal reserve. This defence included three major walks to Parliament House.

During the early days of British settlement in Australia, the relationship between Indigenous peoples and Europeans was potentially quite open. Out of the many possible relationships explored at that time, a particular colonial paradigm emerged of squatters, missionaries and miners. Is it worthwhile delving back into the start of the colony for alternative paradigms that can inform our understanding of biculturalism today? Are there resonances with other colonial beginnings across the South?

Tony Birch writes short fiction, poetry, essays and art criticism. He also works as a curator and teaches creative writing at the University of Melbourne. His books include Shadowboxing and Father’s Day. He has recently been collaborating with artist Tom Nicholson including Camp Pell Lecture (2010) at Artspace.

Ross Gibson is Professor of Contemporary Arts at Sydney College of the Arts. He makes books, films and art installations. He is particularly interested in art and communication in cross-cultural situations, especially in Australia and the Southwest Pacific. His recent works include the books Seven Versions of an Australian Badland and Remembrance + The Moving Image (editor), the video installation Street X-Rays, the interactive audiovisual environment BYSTANDER (a collaboration with Kate Richards) and the durational work ‘Conversations II’ for the 2008 Biennale of Sydney.

Institute of Postcolonial Studies
78-80 Curzon Street
North Melbourne
Victoria 3051 Australia (
Tel: 03 9329 6381
Admission – $5 for waged, $3 for unwaged, and free for members.

The South of International Law

Intensive Workshop
Thursday 8 & Friday 9 July 2010, Melbourne Law School
Call for Participation
Due 22 April

How might a concept of the ‘South’ be understood in terms of a pattern of (international) legal relations? 

‘The South’ is commonly understood as a political rather than a purely geographical  designation, broadly to indicate the ‘have-nots’ in a world riven with material  inequalities. The term is meant to overcome the hierarchical implications of other  designations, and attempts not to accept the epistemological privileges granted by  concepts such as ‘developing’ and ‘developed’.  

Critics of contemporary international legal orders  have pointed out that the grid of  international law has locked in a particular vision and distribution of political and  economic relations that perpetuates the history of  the colonisation of the South. It is  from here that many of the North-South and South-South debates gain their legal  focus. In these accounts the South emerges as a domain in constant need of  recuperation of and by the laws, politics, economies, and cultures of the North. At the  same time South-South relations have emerged in resistance and relation to the  dynamics of North-South relations.

However, if this rendering of accounts of imperial and post-colonial law is let rest a  while, there are other patterns of law that can be  understood to shape the South.  These laws, articulated for example, in terms of indigenous jurisprudences or the  commons, pattern the South according to different cosmologies, laws of relationship,  responsibilities, and protocols of engagement. Respond to these laws – as many  contemporary debates that link the places, peoples, and histories of the South do -  and a different patterning of legal relations emerge.   

The workshop invites consideration of the many ways in which the South is patterned  by indigenous, national, international and other laws – some providing parallel  accounts of law(s) of the South, others that intersect and conflict. The aim of this  workshop is to develop the repertoires of thinking  through the laws that position the  South in the domains of international laws.

Themes might include:

  • The South as a ‘lawful’ rather than lawless place,  engaging questions of plural legalities and intersections of laws
  • The South as a political-legal entity
  • The South as an object of International law and administration
  • Alternative traditions of ‘international’ legality

Specific debates addressed might include:

  • Trade, development
  • Security
  • Environment
  • North-South Justice
  • Transnational (and private) engagements of laws
  • Indigenous jurisprudence and formulations of the international

The Workshop

The symposium is designed to take advantage of the  visit to Melbourne of three
outstanding scholars:

Dr Fleur Johns (University of Sydney), Dr Catriona Drewe (SOAS, London); and Professor Ruth Buchanan (Osgoode Hall, Toronto)
Ruth, Catriona and Fleur research, teach and write  in areas including international law, development, legal theory, human rights, globalisation and self determination.  Each works from a perspective interested in questions of global justice and critical thinking.  The workshop is being organised by four Melbourne scholars with complementary  interests; Luis Eslava, Shaun McVeigh, Sundhya Pahuja and Gerry Simpson.

Applications to participate:

Everyone is welcome to apply to participate, though we particularly encourage  papers from advanced graduate students, young scholars and junior members of  faculty. There are three ways to participate: 

1. Paper Presentation (6)
Three sessions will be held as intensive engagements with each other’s work.  In  each session, there will be a presentation by one of our guests and 2 papers  selected from applicants’ papers.  The chair and our guest scholars will read the  papers in advance. The authors will each present the paper orally for around 20  minutes.  The Chair will offer a short commentary on each before opening the floor to  discussion.  If you are selected to present, you will need to provide a written draft of your paper
two weeks before the workshop.   

2. Reading Group Discussant (3)
We will also include a reading group at the workshop for which the text will be distributed shortly. One of the organisers will lead the discussion.  All workshop participants are strongly  encouraged to do the reading beforehand, but we also seek three discussants to  engage closely with the text and to be key participants in the discussion. 

3. Non-Presenting Participant (15-20)
The whole workshop will be held in plenary.  Places will be limited to 35 participants.

Because we wish to build an ongoing discussion, we  envisage that everyone will attend the whole conference and will come prepared  to participate in the reading group.  

Fees / Conference Support

There is no charge for those selected to participate in the workshop, but you must be  registered to attend.  Dinners are not included. We have no travel funding, but if you  wish to attend but need accommodation, please get in touch with us and we will try to  assist you however we can (such as finding you a place to stay). 

How to Apply

Everyone: send an email with the subject line:  South Of International Law  to [email protected] by 22 April with your:

  • Name
  • Institutional Affiliation

And if relevant:

  • Position
  • Course and stage of study 
  • Citation of one or two representative publications

Reading Group Discussants

The above, plus… an indication that you would like to be a Reading  Group discussant in your email.

Paper Presentation

The above, plus…

  • a short abstract (max 500 words) of your paper; and
  • some information about whether it is part of a larger project.  

If you would like to be considered to be a reading group discussant in the alternative, please say so.

Deadline for applications:  22 April 2010

Notifications by 3 May whether you have been selected. Papers will be selected by the Melbourne organisers. 

Remapping Environmental Histories



Date: Thursday 25th March, 2010
Venue: Royal Society of Victoria
9 Victoria Street Corner of Victoria St. and Exhibition St.  Melbourne 3000

Monash University Faculty of Arts and School of Geography and Environmental Science invite you to public lectures by two leading scholars of Africa’s social and environmental history

Professor Edwin Wilmsen Centre for African Studies University of Edinburgh

  • Globalization before the globe was known: Asian-African interactions in the 1st century CE
  • Professor Wilmsen will discuss the extension of biological and cultural exchanges between south-central Africa and the Indian Ocean region from ca. BCE 100 – CE 1000.

Professor Judith Carney Department of Geography University of California, Los Angeles

  • Seeds of Memory: Africa’s Botanical Legacy in the Atlantic World
  • Professor Carney will examine the inter-continental plant exchanges that took place as a consequence of the transatlantic slave trade and the presence of enslaved Africans in the Americas

RSVP is required by Monday 21st March at: [email protected], or Sharon Harvey on  (03) 9902 0398