Space, Light and Democracy




Space, Light and Democracy
When | Friday 7 March, 1pm
Location | College of Fine Arts, UNSW



Artspace and the Centre for Contemporary Art and Politics and the School of Art History and Art Education at the College of Fine Arts, UNSW present an afternoon of artist presentations and discussion focussed on artist interventions into public space and the ways in which such interventions may disrupt or be in turn inflected by the privatisation and technological regulation of public spaces. Each of three featured artists ­– Merilyn Fairskye, Mischa Kuball and Ashok Sukumaran – will introduce their practice via a selection of projects realised within 'non-art' public spaces. Whilst their practices are distinct in significant ways, the artists share an interest in the manipulation of artificial light to transform perceptions and experiences of place, giving shape to the forms of social interaction and discourse taking place within public environments.


These presentations will be followed by a discussion panel considering the present-day conditions informing artists' activity in public spaces in Sydney and the manners in which artists are currently seeking to probe social relations to place. What is the effect of long existing models of community and political activism being reworked in current social or post-situationist models of art practice? In the changing social and physical cartography of the city does site-specificity retain efficacy as a lightning rod for cultural memory and history?




Merilyn Fairskye is a Sydney-based artist who exhibits widely both in Australia and overseas. Her artwork encompasses a broad range of media and methods from public artwork to video installations, films and photo-based works. She teaches in the Media Arts Studio of Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney.


Dusseldorf-based artist Mischa Kuball has worked extensively in both gallery/museum and public space contexts for over two decades. He has utilised light extensively over this period, exploring its capacity to shape social and political discourse. Kuball is a Professor in the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne. The book Mischa Kuball …in progress: Projekte / Projects 1980 - 2007 was published by Verlag Hatje / Cantz in 2007. His exhibition Re:Mix/Brocha II (Letters/Numbers)is showing at the Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, 29 February - 5 April, 2008. The participation of Mischa Kuball in this symposium is supported by Goethe-Institut Australien.


"The works of Ashok Sukumaran explore the primary elements of media interaction through interfaces that enable more embodied relationships with the materialities of media... Trained as an architect and subsequently in interactive media, the artist has created works that excavate the historical intersections of architecture and media. Most notably, in his work Glow Positioning System (2004), whereby a 1000 foot ring of decorative lights connecting several buildings and several streets in central Mumbai, is rewired to be controlled by a hand-crank interface available to the public; enabling an 'alternative grammer for electricity in the city'," (Gunalan Nadarajan, 2006 Singapore Biennale handbook)




Zanny Begg is a Sydney-based artist, writer and curator who partakes in projects and exhibits extensively internationally. She often works collaboratively including projects with Dmitry Vilensky, Oliver Ressler and Keg de Souza with whom she initiated the If You See Something Say 
Something multi-venue exhibition, publishing and workshop project. In 2005 she co-curated (with David McNeill) Disobedience – an exhibition of 
Australian and International artists at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery that
 explored critical responses to globalization and was held in 
conjunction with the Sydney Social Forum.


David Cranswick is Director, d/Lux/MediaArts.


Blair French (Chair) is Executive Director, Artspace Visual Arts Centre.


Michael Goldberg is an artist, curator and academic. His early site-specific projects explored the conventions of museum display and how cultural information is communicated to the public were located in Australian colonial heritage sites. Later projects have addressed the workings of global financial markets and their representation on the Internet. Goldberg is a senior lecturer in the Sculpture, Performance and Installation Studio at Sydney College of the Arts. His exhibition project Strong language Some violence Adult themes is showing at Artspace, Sydney, 7 - 29 March, 2008.


Astra Howard is a Sydney-based artist whose 'action research' public undertakings merge a social science methodology with a performance orientated relationship to public sites. Howard has carried out action research in urban areas across the globe including Beijing, Paris, New York and Delhi. She was an exhibiting artist in the 2007 group exhibition Publicity curated by Reuben Keehan for Artspace, Sydney and Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia.