Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Firstdraft depot visit - 29 August

Lovely weather for a quick snoop about the Firstdraft depot.  For those that came in late Firstdraft is Sydney's oldest ARI, founded in the 1800s or 1980s. Their main gallery space is in Surry Hills and the depot is their studio space in Woolloomooloo. For the local historians out there, the depot used to be an actual depot, and to be honest it looks like it stopped being a working outpost of Sydney council yesterday. But they have hundreds of emerging artists filter through the space, with one half comprising some subsidised spaces that six artists can rent for up to six months and the other half shared by two artists awarded residencies by the organisation.

Our tour started upstairs in the rooms currently occupied by artists Boni Cairncross and Romi Graham. These artists are on the residencies and are prepping for shows at the firstdraft gallery in September and October respectively. After a quick snoop here it was over the corridor to check out the renters (I wonder if there is any tension between the scholarship kids and those paying their way? I should've asked). I didn't catch the names of all the artists here and I couldn't find anything on their intrawebs site (which if I was one of these artists I would ask for a shout out, any publicity helps right?) but I did like the look of Linda Wilken's output which I think would be very popular with some of my junior art critics (it is all disney princesses and barbies repurposed for subversive social commentary). Downstairs we had a chance to look and hear about Boni and Romi's work in what I guess is the project space. It was interesting to hear about Boni's "you must follow me carefully" work where she makes a record of a live performance by someone else. I will have to see this as a performance before I make my mind up. I think I would want some more permanent type of record than the roll of paper which seems a bit ephemeral. I also wonder how a commercial imperative may impact her work in the future (but that may just be the collector in me wondering what is for sale). Romi's work was easier for me to take in. It is an exploration of fame where her alter ego (also known as Romi) pretends to be a famous starlet a la Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. Romi has made some really colourful banners celebrating her fame and has a great quote "never let your talent hold you back" on the one above. This not only speaks to fame but according to my art historian other half (who has a thing for 16th century venetian masters) could also be a subtle satire of some contemporary art output. Romi includes her twitter handle (@RomiGrahamReal) in her work, her goal here is 1 million followers so if any of my 4 readers has a twitter account (I know you do mum!) then help her out as she has a ways to go.

Points: I will give 3 to Romi. I liked how visual her banners were (and I think her alter-ego would crave the top spot). 2 points for Boni and 1 will go to Linda Wilken.  Highly commended to Firstdraft for a great night out.

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