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Art, site and culture research

Addressing the notion of place from cultural and material perspectives
Exploring the potential for cultural interpretation and responses to the physical qualities of space. We embrace the notion that space has expanded to include virtual realms.

Art, Site and Culture Research at Sydney College of the Arts responds to the world around us in a variety of ways and assumes many forms that collectively span the entire gamut of contemporary art practices. These include traditional research, site-specific engagement with spaces, and relational aesthetics in the form of site-dependent performance. Contemporary artistic research encompassed by this mode of practice cultivates new modes of praxis dependent upon the uses and interpretations of space, culture and industry.

Our research challenges the notion that space is merely a passive backdrop to the activities that occur within it. Those working in this field aim to increase collaboration with other artists or various community groups outside of the art world. Related research aims to magnify understanding of the socio-political aspects of space as it is embedded within broader histories of its uses.
Artists working within this field frequently deploy materials in inventive and unexpected ways and, engage and collaborate with public institutions, government agencies, other cultural bodies and commercial enterprises to develop conventional creative attitudes to site and space.



Dr Alex Gawronski, Lecturer, Visual Arts

Alarm (2018) was a site-specific audio installation using reconditioned domestic car-alarms. The work was created for Canberra based public art biennale CONTOUR 556. Hidden under a busy overpass that leads traffic towards Australia’s Parliament House, Alarm could be read as a distress beacon and a call to stop and consider the overlooked dimensions of urban space beyond the habitual pressures that fix our daily use of it. Alarm further alluded to a more pervasive sense of global unease whereby almost anything can trigger suppressed feelings of dread or paranoia.

Critical Fashion Practice

Dr Adam Geczy, Senior Lecturer, Visual Art

Fashion model on the front cover of a magazine

In Critical Fashion Practice, Adam Geczy and Vicki Karaminas identify a new form of design practice within the fashion industry that activates complex modes of social commentary and critique. The authors distinguish a contemporary form of politic through fashion from the modernist era, in which subversion and critique were expressed in the form of subcultures or perversions such as punk or BDSM styling. The book claims that these genres have now been absorbed into the fashion industry itself, meaning that “critical fashion” is now far from limited to the subcultures from which it came. Critical Fashion Practice was published by Bloomsbury in 2017.

Spaced 3: North by Southeast

Robyn Backen, Senior Lecturer, Visual Art

Art installation on the street

Spaced 3: North by Southeast is a program spanning 2016-2018 centred on the exchange residency between Nordic and Australian visual artists, presented by International Art Space. Robyn Backen produced artworks including Barn Wall – I am Gla(s)d, I am Jet Black Glass and Water Without End in response to her time in the Reijmyre glassworks with glass-blowers, factory owners, shopkeepers, gallery museum attendants, factory workers, Swedes, Syrians and other community members. Spaced 3: North by southeast concluded with a group exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 2018.