“Love Love” studios [Teneriffe Brisbane] is an Artist Run Initiative [Andy Harwood, Jay Musk, Sarge Jhogenson] with grunt, showcasing Brisbane’s emerging contemporary art scene. Having had such classy curators as Dhana Merrit [IMA] is indicative of where this outfit is heading, or at least what it is doing. The current “Saturate” group show features a striking colour palette and installation works by emerging and other well known Brisbane artists including Simon DeGroot and Meagan Streader*. Meagan’s interactive installation of movable geometric shaped polymer or light plastic translucent light shades are accompanied by a low volume recording that sounded to me like clunking and clicking metal on metal. My experience of the installation was two fold. First, I was in the room with another couple who were taking the shades off and putting them on to the hidden magnets on the wall. Once the light shades found a magnet “home’ on the wall, the little low energy bulb in the shade came on, revealing a kind of light Buddhist safron robe shade of orange that then effused through the darkened room. On the low ceiling over the wall were about half a dozen light shades with blue lights and next to these blue shades were, I thought, more little magnets. I was mistaken. The woman next to me gently informed me as I tried to stick my shade to the ceiling that the blue light shades were fixed. I had a moment of embarrassment but then realised that this interactive installation of Meagan’s not only had the viewers constantly rebuilding the piece but had them finding human connections in the process. Most art shows are about the viewer and the two dimensional work with maybe a hushed word or two to a friend. This healthy “Love Love” experience for some reason reminded me of a far more harsh and violent approach to engagement with a marginalised arts practice. The current approach to illegal – and sometimes legal – graffiti is eradication and zero tolerance in Brisbane. There is no conversation or attempt to understand what the law currently says is the wrongful placing of paint on public buildings and train track-side barriers. There are some newly funded public mural initiatives that are positive and the Queensland government is on the right track with these projects. However, my view is that a less confrontational approach that attempts to see and understand the art and the artist , that takes the time to engage and to begin the long and sometimes painful conversations, would shift the balance to a more respectful and vibrant ethos and maybe raise the standard of art from reactionary tags to art works that are there just because they are the expression of artists. As with my blue light experience, a gentle redirection has more positive impact in the long term than a sarcastic dismissive intolerant comment from a closed minded observer.
*Meagan is an artist in residence at the Hamilton North Shore Shed – part of the Jugglers studio collective.