SafARI - Looking Deeper into Emerging Art in Sydney
SafARI is an informal event that accompanies the existing Biennale of Sydney, which exhibits the work of unrepresented artists opposed to those who are more renowned and commercially supported.
2004 saw the conception of the event, exhibiting the work of these underground artists across multiple Artist-Run Initiative (ARI) locations around Sydney throughout the duration of the opening weeks of the Biennale.
SafARI aims to highlight venues that are home to the future creative generations. By coinciding with the Biennale – Sydney’s most imperative visual arts affair – the stark dichotomy between SafARI’s mission and the mainstream art world is more apparent. SafARI is a welcome reminder of where it all begins, by paying respectful homage to base level initiatives.
There are two components that make up SafARI 2014: SafARI and SafARI LIVE. SafARI will consist of the work from 14 Australian artists (including 3 collaborations) across Artist Run Initiatives as well as public spaces, and SafARI LIVE will stage live work from 6 Sydney-based performance artists.
BYO caught up with the curators of SafARI 2014, Liz Nowell and Christiane Keys-Statham to gain a little more insight on the event and on emerging Art itself.
What was the process in choosing the successful artists to be showcased in 2014?
Christiane: SafARI has an open call out to all emerging, unrepresented Australian artists. The overall high quality of the circa 160 proposals received made the task of selection quite difficult. It took us many weeks of discussions, arguments and late night phone calls to come to an agreement. To create a large group exhibition with a consistent, strong vision and a fine balance of artists is a daunting task, but as curators, Liz and I enjoy this part of the process immensely. We have intense admiration and respect for the group of artists we eventually chose and we know that SafARI 2014 is going to be a hugely successful exhibition, based on the strength of their work.
We received many excellent proposals from Sydney-based performance artists and wracked our brains for a way to showcase these incredible artists. Eventually we decided to create SafARI LIVE, a program designed specifically as a feature for performance art. The 7 artists and collectives in SafARI LIVE will be presenting work alongside the main exhibition, within both gallery and public spaces.
What do you love about SafARI?
Christiane: I personally love the open access aspect of the SafARI program - the fact that it is open to anyone who is unrepresented commercially to make a proposal, thereby presenting an opportunity to artists far and wide, across all disciplines, ages and locations. I love that SafARI also offers professional development not only for artists but for emerging curators, such as Liz and myself, and arts administrators, marketers, designers and writers.
To bring such a large project together requires love and dedication, and having these as the foundations of the project - rather than financial motivations - means that it is a truly inspiring project. When we open on Friday week, we'll be showing the world what a bunch of people can do with a lot of love and a real passion for art.
Liz: I love that the event reinvents itself every two years. Safari is a biennale event and each incarnation is completely different. Everything from the artists, branding to the art administrator’s changes and as a curator it's wonderful to put your own stamp on things.
What can we expect from SafARI this year?
Christiane: Expect to be amazed, inspired and discombobulated. Also expect to be busy! There's a lot to see.
Do you have any advice for people who want to apply to participate for 2016?
Christiane: When that comes around, be honest, open and original. Don't use a lot of art speak in an attempt to get noticed - it has the opposite effect. Be concise and try to show the essence of your practice, rather than a full portfolio - curators can seek this out for themselves.
What does art mean to you?
Christiane: Shelter from the storm.
Liz: The most successful art is that which confronts the issues our society urgently needs to face.
By Daniella Previtera