Media-Space 1981-1986

Media-Space 1981-1986

This exhibition presents documentation of the multi-disciplinary projects undertaken by Perth-based art collective Media-Space across its life-span, 1981-1986.

Curated by Julian Goddard and one of the founding members Paul Thomas, it sheds light on a period in Western Australian art when artists such as Judy Chambers, Anne Graham, Jeff Jones, Will Kohlen, Lindsay Parkhill, Neil Sullivan, Paul Thomas and Allan Vizents dissected the social and political role of art to examine, amongst other issues, the colonial power structures that shaped life in this state.

Media-Space projects drew from conceptual and performance art, as well as emerging computer and telecommunications technologies. In addition to live events and exhibitions, a key element of their work was the documentation and distribution of art works and artistic research through offset lithography, lo-fi photocopied publications and audio cassette tapes.

Within this framework, Media-Space’s activities (performances, videos, photo-essays, texts, installations, soundworks) typically allowed for unplanned outcomes and the focused unravelling of expectations about how/why/where art might occur.

Across its five years of activity Media-Space gained a local, national and international profile that included the presentation of the installation REDLINE at AGWA as part of the 1984 Festival of Perth program; the group was integral to a burgeoning moment in the Perth art scene of the early 1980s, that included PRAXIS, The Centre for Fine Arts at the University of Western Australia, and the Artworkers Union.

The exhibition is curated by Julian Goddard and Paul Thomas with material from the Media-Space and Allan Vizents archives.

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Much like today’s Artist Run Initiatives that are such a key part of a flourishing arts scene, Media-Space was based on a collaborative ethos grounded in critical discussion about how artists might creatively intervene in and change the culture that surrounded them. To this end, they developed a graphic and textual ‘inquiry model’ that guided their exploration of the world through a very focused consideration of, as they put it ‘the ways that historical, sociological, natural, perceptual, scientific, geographical, archaeological and unknown contexts interconnect’.

Robert Cook
AGWA Curator of Western Australian and Australian Art

The group’s various explorations of artistic activities and experiences were employed to investigate themes such as suburban expansion, the layout of the city and its modes of graphic embellishment, class and gender structures, as well as pointedly reframing the state’s development narratives (of the period’s economic boom) as being essentially colonialist.

Isobel Wise
AGWA Associate Curator of Western Australian and Australian Art Post 1970
AGWA is closed until 16 October for a final stage of redevelopment works. Details