Highlights of the Australian Design Biennale Creative Forum 2014

Danielle Wilson

Streamtime loves creatives and their work. In line with that statement, we try to show the love to the talented individuals within the creative industry and the little island at the bottom of Australia was packed to the brim with very special talent for the 2014 Australian Design Biennale in Hobart on November 13 – 16.

Streamtime partnered with AGDA, the Australian Graphic Design Association, as a sponsor of this biannual event, sponsoring the Design Crafts category at the AGDA Awards. Streamtime Community Manager, Kye Hush and I attended the three day event which included an exclusive after dark visit to MONA, the D20 Creative Forum and the AGDA Awards themselves.

Danielle (left) & Kye on their way to MONA

The highlight for me was the D20 Creative Forum, the theme of which was ‘Crossing the Line’. Curated by MONA and hosted by Emily Sexton, previously of Next Wave Festival, this forum really resonated with me.

When deciding who to work with, the possible confrontational nature of your work, when to back down and apologise or when to stand up for your beliefs because they align with your values, are questions that every creative must face.

Some highlights from the forum included:

• A panel on Change and Resistance where MONA’s Leigh Carmichael asked “are you a lone nut or a first follower?” To illustrate his point he showed an entertaining video of a guy dancing on his own at a music festival. His belief was that while it’s risky to be the lone nut, it’s riskier to be the first follower.

• Former Greens Leader and Senator Bob Brown, gave an inspiring keynote where he said “we’ve got to be risk takers, this planet is at stake and it requires thoughtful people to take risks.”

Bob Brown photograph by Remi Chauvin, MONA

• The Activism Incorporated panel was particularly interesting as it posed the question ’When does aligning your brand with a cause ask you to cross the line?’

L-R Juliana Engberg, Marcus Westbury, Casey Jenkins, Elizabeth Pearce and Emily Sexton.

Speaker Elizabeth Pearce, Senior Writer for MONA, is fortunate to work for the incredible, yet elusive David Walsh who encourages crossing the line daily. Yet there was a time when David removed a piece of art at MONA that controversially invited DNA testing for Aboriginality. After consulting Aboriginal Elders he felt the line had been crossed and that it was disrespecting Tasmanian Aboriginals and their heritage.

Casey Jenkins, founder of Craft Cartel and best known for her artwork Casting Off My Womb, saw her artwork and intent questioned by the masses when SBS’s The Feed did an online segment called Vaginal Knitting. Viewed by over five million people, many of whom reacted and commented with disgust, Casey asked herself whether she crossed the line. Her conclusion was no she didn’t as she’d created the piece with the intent on casting off the social taboo about menstruation and the word vagina.

Marcus Westbury, Founder of Renew Newcastle and Renew Australia, still questions whether they are crossing the line in their work of taking unused properties in Australia and working with the owners to negotiate making the space available to creatives.  Working with good intentions and working with those who may not always have the best of intentions is something that they still struggle with.

Working as the Artistic Director at ACCA, The Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Juliana Engberg, is always encouraging others to cross the line, but only for the right reasons, not for ‘shock value’. When artist Mikala Dwyer, wanted to lift the social shame behind defecating by doing it in public at the opening of her Goldene Bend’er exhibition at ACCA earlier this year, the ACCA agreed.

Juliana Engberg photograph by Remi Chauvin, MONA

At this year’s Biennale of Sydney, Ms. Engberg as Artistic Director and the exhibiting artists were at the forefront of controversy as Founding Partner, Transfield Holdings were discovered to have links to offshore detention centres through its parent company. The outcome, after ten artists withdrew from the event, was to cut ties with Transfield.

Rarely is there an industry where you can push the boundaries of society, normality and human and consumer perception on a daily basis in your work. Being creative, whether it’s working in a conventional agency, working for yourself, as an artist, for a museum, (the list goes on), you are given this chance. I’m sure this is one of the reasons people pursue a life in the creative industry.

We left the Creative Forum with minds churning, wanting more.

Bring on 2016.

 

Danielle Wilson loves her job. In fact you won’t come across anyone more enthusiastic to help customers work more effectively and efficiently. She is very passionate about the environment and Bloody Marys. Just don’t try and serve her fast food from a multi national!

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1 Comment

  1. AK
    December 9, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    Great article … great to see you got so much out of your time at AGDA.

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Highlights of the Australian Design Biennale Creative Forum 2014