DAY 2: SATURDAY
It’s pouring outside. All the better for locking down and talking about the state of the arts in the cosy, albeit incredibly humid, indoors.
TOTORO’S TEA HOUSE
Punters who aren’t too hungover gather en masse at the tiny tea house to discuss DIY projects and Artist-Run-Initiatives. Among the panel are members from the seminal Melbourne zine store Sticky and a guy who is in the process of setting up a gallery in a Wollongong drain. Tres admirable. As the conversation bounces around the room, with talk of projects all over the country, I am surprised to feel a little sheepish as a Canberran. Back home, I know of very few people, if any, who will take on projects without some kind of funding, yet in other cities this seems to be quite common. Where are we going wrong? Has living in the shadow of Parliament House left us reluctant to do anything without a government handout first? Hmm…a sobering start to the day.
A little depressed, I scuttle away to my next roundtable discussion ‘Almost Famous’. Here, a bunch of journos have been gathered together to name-drop and discuss the ups and downs of interviewing personalities for the media. This is one of the best events yet – although the participant’s experiences vary widely we all have tips and techniques to share, and conversation careens from how to avoid being star-struck (a problem close to my heart) to wrestling for interview time on the red carpet. Hilarious and revealing.
A slick gallery space in the Hunter Street Mall, Loop Space is hosting The Garden of Forking Paths. I head along to the exhibition tour and talk by curator Neil Jenkins. The show is a survey of historical and contemporary video games created by artists, and presents a nice overview of works that have pushed the boundaries of this sometimes difficult genre. Attending the talk was a good move on my part – had I not, it would definitely have been over my head.
As the rain gets even heavier, I head to my last talk-fest for the day ‘Give Me Cleo Over Kerouac’. The huge audience is immediately launched into passionate discussion surrounding the place of ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture, thanks to a large panel with some great insights to offer. Lulu Browett, from the ‘Almost Famous’ roundtable earlier in the day, is participating here too. Her experience working in TV for Big Brother is especially fascinating, as is the input of Marieke Hardy from Triple J and another panelist who has worked for New Idea magazine. These industries are largely foreign to me, and I soak it all up like a sponge.
Also like a sponge are my clothes, and I splash my way back through the rain to the hotel to try and dry out.