Espionage Gallery and the Struggle For Survival.

Last Thursday (14th of November) I helped one of my favourite artist-run-initiatives in Adelaide, Espionage Gallery, launch its Pozible Campaign to fight the fickle fiscal system and stay open.

ImageThe past couple of years have been hard on Adelaide’s cultural scene, we have seen the closure of many venues that support us ‘young people’ do our ‘creative thing’ whether that be art, music, theater, or beer and bullshit.  The South Australian Government has recently introduced new liquor licensing laws that are hitting all manner of businesses hard, especially in the creative sector that is still struggling to bounce back from our (admittedly minor comparatively to some countries) GFC-inspired-recession. One of these factors is the price increases for a temporary liquor license to be able to sell drinks at a public event in your not-a-bar-space.  Espionage has a public gathering every two weeks or so, ranging from opening new visual art exhibitions, skilled workshops, chairty fundraisers, or webcast live DJ sessions. We need to run a bar at these events to help pay the increased rental costs, but the increased licensing costs then make this redundant.

SO! We’re asking for a little help to make some improvements to the gallery, start a shop, pay some rent, and generally spiffy the place up a bit so that when Fringe time comes, we’ll be super-amazing and everyone in Adelaide will buy ALL THE ART and ALL THE BEER and we wont have to close down EVER. The whole story can be found here; www.pozible.com/saveespionage, as well as means to donate if you feel so inclined!

ImageThe director of the gallery, Josh Smith (pictured above with the irrepressible Gen Brandenburg), asked for my help to run the campaign from planning pricing to social media. Being so passionately passionate about my passions, I immediately agreed, and to date I am pleased to say that in three days we have managed to raise a whopping $4000 of our $7000 target, so its looking good. 🙂

ImageTo really hit the point home, I wrote a speech that I gave on opening night/launch party. I have transcribed the speech below for those who missed it!

“As some of you may know, I recently completed my BVA at UniSA.  Like many graduates fresh out of the ‘McDegree’ system, when I emerged from five years of study, I actually had no idea how to create a sustainable arts practice (despite what that system had tried to tell me). For a year or so I floated around working retail and hospitality jobs, gradually losing my passion and creative vision to bills, bars, and blatant apathy. But at some point I made a decision; it was either make art or be completely dead inside (and yes, it was THAT melodramatic!), and though dimmed what was left of my arty spark began to blaze.
The dream was always to run my own an arts venue.
The chance came through Renew Adelaide, and I sat down and took a long hard look at the logistics of running a space without solid financial planning and a dedicated workforce. My courage faced off against my skill set at the time, and packed its bags- gone.

Its actually pretty hard to create an artists-run-initiative in Adelaide. It takes a near super-human ability to maneuver your way around nonsensical building codes, prohibitive liquor licensing laws, marketing plans, budgets, customer relations, demographics, governing bodies and funding surplus… And then you have to deal with THE ARTISTS!
Fortunately, under the staid surface of football, white-collars, and peak hour traffic to and from cathedrals dedicated to commercialism there is a hive of dedicated people passionate about supporting arts culture in this city.  They consistently push against the concept that grey concrete walls and silence after midnight is an ideal living space (of course we here in this room know its not!).

Josh Smith is one of those people. Trough his tireless efforts running this space, hundreds of people have been inspired to find and explore their creative spark.  Artists that would otherwise be stuck at a counter making endless coffees or sticker-pricing tags forever have been supported and encouraged to do what they love, and give others colour and life in their day. He has built a cohesive community that at its core lies a little family that come together to help, to gossip, to laugh, to play, to create, and to rehabilitate each other in the name of Art. We’ve been thriving up here in this hot white room, and now its time to return the favour.

Adelaide’s a tricky beast, with funding fashions ebbing and flowing between trams, stadiums, pop-up co-working hubs, and car park redevelopments, but Art is forever, and artists will not rest until they have an outlet for their passions. We need spaces like this one to survive, therefore we have to hep them survive. So push the button, get a drink, buy An Art, create life, love what you do… and our Espionage family will love YOU!”

ImageIf I’ve convinced you with these words (or even if you love local artists and are looking for a unique new thing to hang on your wall) head to www.pozible.com/saveespionage and throw some coins at us.  With your help we can change this city, one boring wall at a time!

*note; all photos credit of the awesome Alex Kwong from happy618, check out more from the night here!

‘Male:Real/Ideal’ and The Vicious Stare*

*This post informs a catalogue essay on the same topic to be printed for the opening of ‘Male;Real/Ideal’ at The Mill (154 Angas Street 5000) on the 6th of September 2013.

My first experience with male body image disorders was through a friend of mine.
We were 18-20-something’s, fresh out of high school and Living The Dream (‘bludging around’).  As with many young creative types, we experimented with many random things, photography being intrinsic to all (many thanks to long-time inspiration Gemma Killen!).  We developed a taste for stage make-up and outlandish clothes, dress-up days, heavily-themed parties, and fantasy photo shoots.  Boys were girls and girls were boys and we all frolicked about in an artistic haze flouting boundaries wherever possible because it was FUN and the act of growing up is frankly a bit shit.
Meanwhile, somewhere in all that play our brains and opinions were developing.  Boundaries were reformed even as we broke them.  More specifically; when we ran into other peoples boundaries we discovered it really hurt.

Said friend, not gay but prone to wearing skirts in public, eye-liner to the beach, and his own amazing jewelery creations everywhere, found it very difficult ‘conforming’ to other peoples dress standards.  He was offended that people immediately assumed there was something wrong with him for wearing a highly-gendered piece of fabric that wasn’t of the masculine style, wrong that he was strong but not tall and big, wrong that he was musical not just LOUD, wrong that he preferred making beautiful things to rounding up other people on a designated bit of ground while aiming for convoluted goals associated with gaining the most numbers.  Already prone to depression, his inability to be able to express himself without the rest of society freaking out and trying to cover him up/convince him otherwise/ignore his existence/run away from the issue sometimes resulted in crippling anxiety and incredible depths of despair.  Unable to face the stares, he retreated for days, weeks, at a time.  We had huge conversations about conventions and gender politics and un-fucking the system, but sometimes, the weight of all those bewildered (and sometimes downright violent) eyes broke him.

Male:Real/Ideal Louie Tarr

We’ve all faced it.
The “why can’t I just be happy with how I look?” which really means “Why are THEY so happy with how they look?”
Its a cycle of self-dissatisfaction> jealousy> greed> self-hate> binge> purge> binge> purge> recover> something’s wrong> self-dissatisfaction> etc, mostly pushed by the media and health organisations as one of those “women’s issues” that we’re so jumpy about (hope you heard the cynicism there).  But listening to my friend talk about this ten years ago, and watching the effect it had on him then strikes home to me that acceptance is not just a “women’s issue”, but (WARNING! Related tangent ahead!) as with domestic violence, its EVERYONE’S ISSUES.

Example two; I dated a painfully skinny boy for a long time (7’2″ tall, 63kg).  We ate chicken nuggets, packet pasta, fried steak and potatoes, take away Chinese, pizza, hamburgers, and drank half a carton of beer a night.  I gained many a tummy roll, he stayed 63kg.  Sometimes he even lost weight, at one point he was 59kg, and freaked out and started eating five times a day.  All he wanted was to hit 70kg.  The dream was 80. I don’t think he ever made it.
Years later, I dated another boy.  At this point I had lost all belief in scales and weight (“You sure that things safe to stand on?”) so I don’t remember numbers.  He had a belly, and arms that jiggled when he ran.  Stockily built, he had muscle mass but it was buried under years of video games and snacks.  I loved him regardless.  He hated himself because he wasn’t fit, buff, or skinny. He hated the jiggle.  His brother, a keen sportsman, was soaked in protein shakes and workouts, and keept a sheath of ‘Men’s Health’ magazines around the house at all times.  The models on the cover seemed to shout YOU WILL NEVER BE AS GOOD AS US BUT YOU MAYBE COULD BE JUST FOLLOW THESE FIVE SIMPLE TIPS…   A constant reminder that whatever you are is never enough.

Compare this with a quote by a woman I found on the controversial Facebook post by Mamamia on the BodyPositiveProject that tells women that by embracing their natural face and not wearing make-up they are empowering themselves.
“I’m one of those people who only wears make up if I have to like say my wedding day, my profile pic. Most others I don’t have makeup on and my husband has always loved that about me that I look like the same person no matter what time of day it is.  Join me people its quite liberating! I do however think I need to get on top of the waxing situation a little more often gorilla eyebrows don’t suit me!!”
Both genders are under the same assumption; what you are is never enough.

Earlier this year a friend of mine, Brodie Paparella, approached me with an idea.  Brodie is of the super-skinny type that I described in my first boyfriend.  He eats constantly but his metabolism is so fast his barely has time to gain nutrients from food before its gone.  By the time he’s 30 he is likely to have osteoporosis.  Colds and viruses hit him particularly hard as he has little to no body fat to feed him immune system.  He has had various reactions to his weight, ranging from “OH, I wish I had you’re problem!” to “You gotta be a junky, right? Can you get me some stuff?”.  Sick of the blatant uninformed judgement on his physical form, he wanted a way of telling the world “Some people just ARE this way! Get over it!”

Lo and behold; Male;Real/Ideal.  A photographic art project that we devised to attack that very situation.  Seven everyday men are paired with seven emerging and professional photographers.  Together they explore the concepts of their own physicality versus outsiders judgement.  They plan conceptual shoots for two images; one that represents where they feel most judged by their appearance, and one where they feel most comfortable and at ease with themselves.

Male:Real/Ideal Kat Coppock
Male:Real/Ideal Kat Coppock

I believe that one of the roles of the artist in society is to challenge presumption.  Therefore we must create ways in to disrupt things society takes for granted, such as stereotypes.  This exhibition is one of those ways.
By selecting models and creating sets, poses, and attire for them we are emulating a modern fashion shoot.  By using atypical models we disrupt what is perceived as ‘attractive’ and bring perceptions of physicality out of the dreamy clouds of commercialism and back to tangible reality.  These are the guys that write your smartphone apps, that teach your children, that work in your offices, that are reading next to you in the library, that make your coffee. There are thousands of them around this country, and none of them look like a God.

Most advertising works on the premise that through repetition the message sticks.  We appropriate and use this same tactic against the illusion theyre trying to sell us by planning five exhibitions with the same theme.  After the fifth we will make a book and sell it that way.  We will cover overweight men, disabled me, transgender men, and overseas men in an effort to show Australia that you don’t have to try and be THIS
antithusguyblogpost

When there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being this;
MaleRealIdeal Dave Laslett

****

OPENING NIGHT CELEBRATIONS for Male:Real/Ideal are 6pm on Friday the 6th of September at The Mill (154 Angas Street Adelaide 5000). The show will run till the 27th of September.
See you there!

male real ideal email flyer

Every Death is a Rebirth

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On the Tenth of May, 2013, my favourite art gallery, music venue, theater space, book-club room, games hall, and all round awesome hangout-spot the reading room closed its doors for the last time in its current form.

Joining such cultural luminaries as Format, Higher Ground, and Tuxedo Cat in the great (temporary) ARI in the sky, this is the seventh such arts venue to close its doors in a matter of months, leaving another gaping hole in the cultural tapestry that our City Council keeps insisting is ‘vibrant’ and ‘exciting’ (while simultaneously shipping in cultural entrepreneurs from Melbourne to ‘start-up’ ‘co-working initiatives’ in our CBD. Pretty sure that’s what we’ve been doing the whole time with less buzz words, but it doesn’t look good in their end of year action reports when the populace are forced to get up and do it themselves).

ReNew Adelaide, the organisation that has been sponsoring us through the nearly three years of our tenancy at 153 Hindley Street, state that they are in the process of finding us a new space as soon as one suitable is found, so the reading room will be back at some point! We don’t know how long it will be before we can re-establish, and we don’t know when, but the spirit of our 30+ volunteers and 100s of artists and performers will not be so easily quenched. We are merely biding our time.

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The main issue is that, although there are literally HUNDREDS of empty buildings in the the Adelaide CBD, not many of them are compliant for a thing called a 9B.  There is a system of classification for every business run out of every building in every street world wide. At the moment we are ‘trading’ (ha!) under a Class 6, which is a retail license. For those who have been to the reading room you would know that we trade rarely, if at all, and generally only when we have a donations bar open at events to raise money to pay insurance and electricity bills and selfish things like that.
What we are looking for in the new space is a classification called a 9B, which means that we would be allowed to hold more events more often without getting in trouble from the Council itself. To do these things, we need a building that complies with this license, and there are not many around, as explained by Ianto Ware, founder of Format and ReNew Adelaide in this blog post.

So, long story short, it will be a while till we can get everything organised and ready to go. If your keen on updates, join our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or send us an email at readingroom_adelaide@gmail.com and join the mailing list.

Untill then, pictures from the EPIC goodbye party can be found here and here

Till we meet again!

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“Feathers”

In addition to being in the Espionage Gallery “AllStars Exhibition” (13th December!), running the Reading Rooms arts program, going on Cairns for a holiday for Eclipse Festival 2012, breaking my toe, rescuing little birds with broken legs, farewelling a dear friend to South America, getting an amazing new tattoo, and generally ‘Doing Life’, this past month or two I’ve been flat out curating, co-ordinating and creating “Feathers”, my most ambitious (potentially TOO ambitious?) project yet!

Inspired by the phrase “Birds of a feather flock together”, ‘Feathers’ will be held at the Format Gallery Space (15 Peel St, Adelaide 5000) from the 9th January to 10th February 2013.

23 young artists’ works will be enmeshed in a giant chicken wire nest built within the gallery, physically and metaphorically supported by the audience as they weave fabric, yarn, sticks, tape, and other recycled materials into the walls.

The opportunity for young artists to showcase their work and become known in the arts sphere is a high priority of this exhibition, with experienced artists displayed on the same platform as emerging thus promoting equality in the creative sphere. The media that these artists work within will be entirely their own choice, absolving the divide between genres and treating all crafts as equal. From photography to jewellery, to illustration and sculpture, all forms of expression combine to increase awareness of local visual culture.

The artists involved include;
Vera Ada, Sebastian Petrovski, Steph Fuller, Genevive Brabdenburg, Elle DS, Gee Greenslade, Wes Todd, Reb Rowe, Cameron Brideoak, Dan Purvis, Caitlin Millard, Beth Millard, Artist Neto, Sam Evans, Imee Luz, Fruszi Kinez, Grace Mitchell, Andrew Humphries, Katie Lee, Alyshia Eming, Esther Nimmo, Ashley Playfair, Ryan Wakelin; all very talented and amazing at what they do.
Needless to say this show is going to be RIDICULOUSLY amazing,

Its been a lot of hard work, after spending MONTHS recruiting artists, planning the show, and more hours creating a 65page application to a traditional funding body, I was unsuccessful for my $4000 request. So I created a Pozible campaign. Its been going really well, at the stage I created the campaign I thought I still had a chance for this organizations funding, so set it at less than I needed (rookie mistake #1)…
After not getting the funding, I did a massive revision of the budget and cut out a lot of things like advertising, which were super costly. The new estimate is that the project will cost us about $1800 with the majority of that going towards things like buying the chicken wire and wooden doweling, and the rest on gallery hire and promotional costs (catalogues are expensive!).
Despite this though the campaign’s been going OFF, and we hit target with ten days left! We’re sitting at about 111% funded with five days to go, but due to my oversight we’re still looking for moneys, and people are still contributing, which is great! There’s some amazing stuff up for grabs on the campaign site, including limited edition prints by artists involved, a dessert baking class at a local cafe, portraits of the artists shot by incredible local photographer Genevive Brandenburg,  as well as some cool stickery things designed by yours truely! (plug plug)

We’ve also been featured in  Krystoff Magazine, and I had an  interview on Radio Adelaide 101.5fm Friday morning (breakfast show… uggghhh… early morning was early). Its good, it feels like the cities listening. The weight of expectation hangs in the  air. No pressure. 🙂

To check out the campaign, visit http://pozible.com/feathers… or watch the video!

Much more to come on this show and others, there’s a lot of things in the pipeline, though this is taking up much of my time currently.
Who says there’s nothing to do in Adelaide? ;P
Xx

Hard Lines

Well, Isn’t this exciting?
(Yes! Yes it is!)

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The above is the flier for my next exhibition with Adelaide artist Tiff Hampton at the Reading Room!

(mass credits to the amazingly talented Meg Cowell  for her photography expertise in taking the image, and the ever-wonderful Daniel Purvis for flier design and print-readyness)

Blurb text below!

“Yes, they’re back!

Fresh off the back of exhibitions “Les Petites Morts” and “Dirty Truth” respectively, local Adelaide artists Kat Coppock and Tiff Hampton have collaborated for a special Fringe mash-up of epic proportions!

Celebrating the theme of festival excesses, Hard Lines takes the normal and turns it towards the absurd. In Re-New Adelaide’s pilot project and 2012 Fringe Venue The Reading Room these two artists paint, draw, and collage their interpretation of emotional, physical, and psychological indulgence resulting in the largest exhibition ever held in this space.

200 original works by these artists will be priced below the poverty line, with all proceeds going to the human condition’s noble cause. Following purchase, works are immediately available to take home, commemorating your moment of decadence forever.

Opening night; Thursday 23rd February, 6PM.
Cupcakes provided, wine by donation.
Exhibition open most days till 18th March, 2012.

If you’d like to come, or would like a sneak preview of all the awesome goodies to be seen on offer, RSVP HERE!

Needless to say, 100 paintings is quite an effort on my tired-ink stained hands, but as they are small and beautiful, and I’m almost half way through the demand, it should all come together quite well!
See you there for cheap decadent cup-cakey art fun!
Xx

Success!

So last night was the opening of my second exhibition, and first (non-art school) collaborative exhibition, <i>Les Petites Morts!</i>

After a week of sanding, spak-filling, painting, and re-painting, <a href=http://thereadingroom-renewadelaide.blogspot.com.au/>The Reading Room</a> looked absolutely amazing with newly finished walls, and like-wise did our works! Sandrine’s, as you can see below, dominated the space with their effective colour scheme and Neitsche-inspired texts. My works, much much smaller, added some flavour and colour to the scene.

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(photos by NicNic Ansell)

It went astoundingly well, with 17 out of 40 works sold!  (I’m so stoked, all my thanks to those who purchased moments of my experience.)

If you’re around at all on Hindley Street before the 30th of December, drop in and have a look-see!

Leaving you with one of the happiest photos I think I’ll ever cherish; this summed up the night completely for me.

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(photo by Gemma Killen)

Love you guys.
Xx