The symposium accompanied the exhibition "An Act of Showing: rethinking artist-run initiatives through place." It aimed to provoke a conversation about and between artists on ARIs and place.
The symposium had two parallel impulses around place, one more philosophical, the other more art-political. The first impulse emerged from contemporary philosophical thinking about place and its significance for artist-run spaces and how we imagine artist-run spaces and the work they do. The second was Chris Kraus’s provocative essay “Kelly Lake Store and other Stories” where she reflects upon the global forces pushing us all, which leads her to unfurl the notion of “radical localism”. Radical localism expresses the importance of the local places of art-making, compared to global-centrism and importantly, as Kraus notes, their existence is “an opportunity to remain in one’s own community and assert an alternative ethos.”
Place as a philosophical concept speaks of our relationship to the world. It has a long and troubled history within Western philosophical thinking, Aristotle proclaimed place as “prior to all things.” Yet for three centuries–the period of ‘modernity’--place has been “actively suppressed” with time and space dominant. However, in recent decades there has been a profound shift in our understanding of place. For contemporary Australian philosopher Jeff Malpas place is what grounds experience. That is, it’s not so much about how we experience a place but that experience itself is grounded in place. This shift in understanding begins to move closer to Indigenous peoples’ understandings of place, where connection to country is so profound and important – and is expressed through the Aboriginal English word country. If place is what grounds experience, what does this mean for ARIs and artists? Does this change how we think about ARIs and the work they do? How does place as the ground of experience impact on art practices of ‘place-making’ and ‘a sense of place?" The symposium aims to provoke a conversation about and between artists on ARIs and place and ARIs and radical localism.
Artists were invited to discuss several themes: rethinking artist-run initiatives through place, relationships between art, art practice and geography, Chris Kraus’s radical localism in the Asia Pacific Region, relationships between Australian ARIs and the Asia Pacific region, local art and global forces, Indigenous understandings of place and its impact on Australian ARIs and ARI artists and relations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists in Australian ARIs and Art Centres.