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Event/Exhibition: Video Junkee 2017, Sydney

Aspiring content creators and video fans won’t want to miss this event.

Video Junkee 2017 is a two-day festival celebrating the Golden Age of video, featuring a series of talks, panels, screenings, masterclasses and awards that brings together international and Australian content creators.

The line-up of speakers includes Yael Stone (Orange is the New Black), Raphael Bob-Waksberg (BoJack Horseman), Ashly Perez (Buzzfeed), Marc Fennell (The Feed), and the crews of Cleverman, Skitbox and many more.

Tickets start from $19 for individual sessions and $89 for multi-pass packages. For more information, visit Video Junkee website.

July 28-29 | Carriageworks, 245 Wilson Street, Sydney

Digital: Spotify is Testing Out ‘Sponsored Songs’ Program

Spotify is testing ‘Sponsored Songs’ program that allows labels to promote individual songs to non-paying users, the company has confirmed.

Unlike the regular ads, which appear on banners, Sponsored Songs are integrated into playlists that users follow. Users can opt out of this through a setting both on desktop and in-app.

If the test program is successful, Sponsored Songs could be rolled out officially to users on free tier, the company told TechCrunch. However, it remains unclear if the opt-out setting will still be available to non-paying users.

The program is an extension of Spotify’s effort to add more revenue streams. Since last year, Spotify has allowed brands to sponsor playlists, allowing them to add a logo and video ads.

With 140 million active users, Spotify earned a $US3.3 billion in revenue last year, but it still recorded an operating loss of $US389 million.

The Compulsion to Create: ‘Outsider Art’ at MONA’s The Museum of Everything

Ted Snell, University of Western Australia

Who is an artist and when does a fabricated object become art? The 200 individuals represented in The Museum of Everything exhibition at MONA in Hobart focus our attention on these questions. On the website they are described as “untrained, unintentional, undiscovered and unclassifiable artists of modern times”. They are hermits, governesses, housewives, former miners, taxidermists and ex-soldiers, working in painting, sculpture, and an extraordinary range of other media.

While these people may “unintentionally” be making something we might want to describe as art, they are the most focused, driven and compulsive group of makers we are ever likely to encounter, and there is nothing that is unintended in the things they fabricate. Indeed they make these images and objects because they must depict in some form what is most important to them in their lives.

After an exhilarating journey through 30 rooms and many corridors of remarkable images and objects, these questions about the nature of art and the credentials of artists reach a critical mass. Finally, you arrive in a backyard courtyard, entered through a fly-wire screen door. Painted on the wall is a call-out for more people who might be included in some future exhibition. It asks, are you a self-taught or secret artist? Is your home your own personal gallery? Have you invented a private language? If so contact The Museum of Everything.

This last advertisement alerts us to the real conundrum of encountering so many unique individuals and creative practices, who likely never expected us to engage with the things they have made. If they are secret artists, who have developed a private language and wish to keep their activities to themselves, what are we doing prying into their work and their lives?

Can we even call what they make “art”, in the way we conventionally define it, if there is no intention to communicate with an audience?

Untitled (all), Bogdan Zietek, 1970–2010, Courtesy of The Museum of Everything.
Moorilla Gallery, CC BY

Outsiders, or just artists?

Other writers have struggled to explain the remarkable work produced by men and women for whom the act of creation is fundamental to their existence. After the second world war, the French artist Jean Dubuffet coined the label art brut, or raw art, to describe the amazing work he collected from individuals incarcerated in institutions or those that made art privately to fulfil a deep need.

In the 1970s, Roger Cardinal, a British academic, opted for outsider art as a more useful catch-all for artists working on the margins of the art world. Others have grouped the work of this army of practitioners under classifications such as naïve art, visionary art and folk art.

Whatever box we put them in, and none is entirely satisfactory, the artists whose works adorn the walls of MONA are clearly extraordinary.

Courtesy of The Museum of Everything.
Moorilla Gallery, CC BY

These objects have been removed from the homes, hospitals, and workshops where they were made. We are forced to make decisions about how to approach and read them and how to react after engaging with them. We must learn to lift the filters we normally have in place in an art gallery and really look hard at works that break rules, disrupt expectations and offer us insights into the lives of remarkable human beings.

Creative lives

Each of these artists has remade their world through a physical engagement with the tools of art, and because of that, we have a window into some extraordinary personal narratives.

There is Henry Darger the hospital custodian from Chicago who returned home each evening to continue working on his manuscript, “The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion”. He is represented in the exhibition by a series of consecutive panels of drawings illustrating his magnum opus, a sprawling and tender series of traced images woven together with pencil and watercolour.

Untitled (all), Alikhan Abdollahi, c. 2010, Paper mache.
Moorilla Gallery, CC BY

Adolf Wölfli was disturbed and violent, living most of his life in the Waldau Clinic, a psychiatric hospital in Bern. He drew compulsively and like Darger set out to create a massive literary work, in his case a rambling autobiography that saw his gradual elevation to the Sainthood as “St Adolf II”. His dense, complicated and intense drawings in pencil fill the page, leaving no space inactive.

In 2007, I had the opportunity to meet Stan Hopewell, who is represented in this exhibition by his masterwork “The Last Supper”. The task appeared so great, so necessary and so profound that to embark on it Stan required divine guidance. When his wife Joyce became ill, Stan made a pact with his God that he would continue to write and paint to celebrate God’s Love while Joyce remained alive.

Over the next five years, he filled his house with paintings, which he believed were made with the assistance of an “an unseen Angel” and wrote pages upon pages of a stream-of-consciousness manifesto about his life and his beliefs. The day Joyce died, Stan stopped writing and painting. His fantastical works incorporate the events of his life, his family, his abiding faith and current events. They were agglomerations that evolved, each addition adding to the complexity and the scale of the work, incorporating angels with flapping wings, illuminated with lights and adorned with his wife’s knickknacks.

Ambition and obsession

Darger, Wölfli, and Hopewell are only three of the human stories from the vast array that lie behind the over 2,000 objects hung throughout the temporary gallery space of MONA. Of course, they add a dimension to our reading of the work, but it is also true that the imagery is so powerful, so disruptive, so fresh and confronting that it commands our attention.

Untitled (all), Calvin and Ruby Black, 1955–1972, Courtesy of The Museum of Everything.
CC BY

What makes this work so arresting is the urgency of its making. These are images and objects that had to be made, that could no longer be repressed. Whether intended for others or created for solitary contemplation, they have an intensity that draws us deep into their fabricated worlds.

Obsessive detail is a common stylistic trait. Scale and ambition are others. Hans-Jörg Georgi’s amazing flight of aircraft, designed for escape from an uninhabitable planet, spiral through the gallery space in a torrent of energy. Their fuselages, carefully constructed from cardboard and tape, are maniacally compulsive, showing each detail of the engines and propellers, the wing mechanisms, passenger decks and windows. Both prophetic and wildly funny, this work, like so many others in the exhibition, requires a shift in consciousness to fully absorb its significance.

Untitled (all), Hans-Jörg Georgi, 2010–15, Courtesy of The Museum of Everything.
Moorilla Gallery, CC BY

What better place to confront these works than in MONA, a space that has rethought the modern museum and helped us to re-imagine the experience of engaging with artworks? The works are set within rooms designed to create the sense of a slightly dilapidated home-museum: wallpapered, sporadically architraved, cluttered with objects and glass display cases.

It is James Brett, the founder of The Museum of Everything and curator of this show, whose guiding intelligence is everywhere present. Each room is themed. Carefully positioned works draw you through into the next room of wonders where new relationships and variations on old themes play out.

Like every passionate collection, the compulsion to overwhelm is never resisted, but strangely this leads to an insatiable appetite for more. This is most definitely an exhibition that both requires and demands multiple visits.

Which brings us back to those big questions: is it art, and should we be viewing it? Perhaps the best way to describe the individuals whose works fill the Museum of Everything is that they separately and as a group pose questions about the nature of art and challenge us to ponder what it means to be an artist. Significantly, through this process, they highlight the sense of our own humanity and showcase the qualities we ascribe to humanness. What could be more rewarding, inspiring and affirming?


The ConversationThe Museum of Everything will showing at MONA until April 2 2018.

Ted Snell, Professor, Chief Cultural Officer, Cultural Precinct, University of Western Australia

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Event/Exhibition: Adobe ‘MAKE IT’ Conference 2017, Sydney

One of the biggest creativity events in Australia is coming to Sydney this August.

Adobe ‘MAKE IT’ Conference 2017 is a two-day event filled with inspiring talks from local and international speakers, labs, workshops, and seminars as well as sneak-peek from Adobe evangelists about updates in creative toolsets such as Creative Cloud.

Speakers include war photographer Nicole Tung, crafter Kitiya Palaskas, and designers Timothy Goodman, Mike Alderson and James Noble.

Tickets start from $99. For more information, visit Adobe website.

August 2-3 | International Convention Centre Sydney, 14 Darling Drive, Sydney

Music: David Duchovny Announces 2018 Australian Concert Tour

The X-Files star David Duchovny is coming to Australia… to sing. Yes, you read that right.

Duchovny has announced his 2018 Australian concert tour with a new album, which is set to be launched later this year.

The actor’s debut studio album Hell or Highwater was released two years ago, featuring alternative rock sounds inspired by Bob Dylan, R.E.M, Leonard Cohen, and the Flaming Lips.

Duchovny will be touring Australia throughout February and March 2018, with shows in Melbourne, Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong, and Brisbane.

Pre-sale begins on Wednesday, May 31, while ticket sales to general public start on Friday, June 2. For more information, visit Select Touring website.

Visual Arts: GOMA’s Building to Feature James Turrell’s Light Artwork for Its 10th Anniversary

Queensland’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) is celebrating its 10th anniversary by transforming its building with a major light installation from international light artist James Turrell.

The installation, which will be revealed to public in early December, will be a permanent feature of GOMA building thereafter. The installation is planned to light up the gallery’s southern and eastern facades every evening.

The gallery’s lead architects, Kerry Clare, Lindsay Clare and James Jones said they envisioned “an artist illuminated ‘white box’ on the building’s main pedestrian approaches”.

GOMA director Chris Saines said the milestone event provided an occasion to realise the architects’ vision. “It needed something like a major anniversary to get everyone galvanised,” Saines said. “It’s like it’s been in hibernation as a project, and I just thought the tenth anniversary was a really good time to wake it up.”

Saines said Turrell will bring a new touch to his work for GOMA. “He’s undoubtedly the world’s most influential artist who works with the medium of light,” he said. “This is a very different kind of Turrell work and I think that will make our building a destination for Turrell lovers.”

Turrell is also slated to be present for the lighting on of the building in celebration of GOMA’s 10th anniversary.

The installation has been in the works since late 2013, funded by private benefactors as well as contributions from the Queensland Government. The gallery’s supporters are also invited to donate through the 2017 QAGOMA Foundation Appeal.

Digital: Google Launches Siri’s Competitor on iOS

To compete with Apple’s Siri, Google has launched Assistant for iOS at its I/O developer conference on Wednesday.

The AI-powered voice assistant was first introduced on the Pixel phone, and is currently used in over 100 million devices. Users can interact with Assistant through by voicing commands, typing queries, or taking a picture.

Currently, Google Assistant only supports English language, but upgrades for German, French, Japanese and Brazilian Portuguese are expected to arrive soon.

Google Assistant is now available to download at App Store.

Music: Yours and Owls 2017 Lineup Announced

The lineup for Wollongong’s Yours and Owls Festival 2017 has been announced, with headliners such as Safia, Allday, The Preatures, Dune Rats and more.

See the full line-up here:

Pre-sale tickets will be available Friday, while public ticket sales begin on May 22.

This event is strictly over 18s. For more information, visit Yours and Owls Festival website.

September 30-October 1 | Stuart Park, Wollongong

Digital: Instagram Launches New Web and Mobile Features

Instagram has rolled out new features into its website in an attempt to expand to areas with slow networks and inaffordable data.

Users can now share pictures and use the Explore tab on the platform’s mobile and desktop websites. Picture uploads feature is also available on the mobile site. However, some features such as video uploads, filters and Stories are still unavailable outside the app.

“Instagram.com (accessed from mobile) is a web experience optimized for mobile phones,” the company told TechCrunch. “It’s designed to help people have a fuller experience on Instagram no matter what device or network they are on.”

The upgrade is a tie-in of Instagram’s global growth strategy targeted at 80 per cent of the user base outside the US.

Event/Exhibition: Bankstown Poetry Slam featuring Rupi Kaur

As a part of the Sydney Writers’ Festival, Bankstown Poetry Slam’s May edition is bringing the internationally acclaimed poet Rupi Kaur to the show.

The event, which also features Bankstown local Iman Etri, is also opening a callout for performances and youth open mics. Registration for attendance and performance closes on May 5.

For more information, head to the event’s Facebook page or email info@bankstownpoetryslam.com.

Wednesday, May 24, 6.45-9pm | Bankstown Arts Centre, 5 Olympic Parade, Bankstown