Art, Social and Spatial Practice

The Art, Social and Spatial Practice (ASSP) Cluster seeks to investigate the potential of both the material and social production of art as object, performance, spatial practice or relational experience. The cluster will foster cross-disciplinary research dialogue and opportunities for collaboration. It addresses the spatial and social relevance of context central to contemporary arts practice and art in public and institutional spaces.

The Art, Social Spatial Practice Research Cluster are presenting a Food for Thought public event and we welcome your participation!

"Image credit: Conflict Kitchen, 2010-ongoing, Dawn Weleski and Jon Rubin"


The subject of what we put in our mouths – the foods, drinks, health supplements and guilty pleasures – is the famed obsession of the city of Melbourne. We are more sensitive than ever to origins and impact of our food, and aware of our small part in a bigger system of food production within a finite ecosystem. Our food choices have aesthetic, environmental, social and ultimately political repercussions – and artists around the world increasingly draw upon this rich intersection in their work.

Moving beyond dry and often hard to swallow knowledge, this event invites you to play with your food and savour new flavours of thought. 

Presenters and discussants for the evening include VCA Artists in Residence  SpatulaandBarcode (Profs Laurie Beth Clarke and Michael Peterson, University of Wisconsin), Dawn Weleski (artist and Co-Director of Conflict Kitchen USA) and Dr Jen Rae (CCP, Refuge Project).

This event is curated and hosted by Marnie Badham, Centre for Cultural Partnerships (CCP) and Robert Walton, VCA Theatre.

When: 6–8pm Thursday 14 April 2016

Where: Founders Gallery, VCA, 234 St Kilda Rd, Southbank

Cost: FREE but bookings essential via Eventbrite.

Refreshments will be available.

Stories of Art and Performance

13 October 2015 - M Pavilion, Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne

ASSP  hosted a pop-up event as an extension of the 'Food for Thought' seminar series entitled Stories of Art and Performance at M Pavilion, featuring Keg de Souza and Marshall Weber.

In and Out, Over and Under

25 September-1 October 2015 - University of North Texas, USA

ASSP and MIN member Roger Alsop presented a paper/demonstration at the 41st International Computer Music Conference in Denton, Texas, entitled 'In and Out, Over and Under: AN INTERACTIVE AUDIO-VISUAL INSTALLATION RESPONDING TO PERCY GRAINGER'S FREE MUSIC AND THE GRAINGER MUSEUM', which describes a work Roger made in the Grainger Museum for Nite Art in 2014. Roger will be presenting a paper and also co-presenting a second paper with graduate researcher Vincent Giles at the Korea-Electro-Acoustic Music Society Conference in October.

Lights No Eyes Can See

21-25 September 2015 - Melbourne Town Hall

During September, ASSP member Kate Daw presented a new work as part of ACCA in the City, a series of performances, situations and uncanny moments designed by the Australian Centre of for Contemporary Art to bring attention to the characteristics of the city of Melbourne. In Lights No Eyes Can See, Kate used various creative strategies to temporarily activate the Melbourne Town Hall's Swanston Street façade.


24 September 2015 - Founders Gallery, St Kilda Road, Southbank

UNCALLED-FOR: Staging Place Time and Situating PhD Creative Practice was a seminar that took place in September at the VCA with UK artist Graeme Miller and co-convened with ASSP co-leader James Oliver, as part of Performing Mobilities. Graeme Miller's work has emerged from radical performance in the 1980s and now resides across a range of media that includes a series of installation works, such as his currently exhibited work at RMIT Gallery.

Transversal Practices: Matter, Ecology and Relationality VI Conference on New Materialisms

ASSP co-leader James Oliver is a member of the convening committee for the Transversal Practices: Matter, Ecology and Relationality VI Conference on New Materialisms, which took place at the VCA from 27-29 September. Read more about the themes of the conference and keynote speakers.


30 July - 22 August 2015 - Charles Nodrum Gallery, Richmond

ASSP member Jan Murray presents 'Redress', a new series of paintings at Charles Nodrum Gallery. Read more about the works via the website, including an exhibition essay by ASSP member Katve-Kaisa Kontturi.

Help a sculpture

24 July - 1 August 2015 - Margaret Lawrence Gallery, Dodds Street, Southbank

Congratulations to ASSP member Simone Slee, who presented her PhD research project exhibition at the Margaret Lawrence Gallery, entitled 'Help a sculpture'.

Simone is represented by Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne 

Forms for Encounter and Exchange: a discussion with Ted Purves, Susanne Cockrell and Marnie Badham

3 June 2015 - Federation Hall, Grant Street, Southbank

Held one week after the Laughing Waters Residency (see below), artists, faculty, students and the public were invited to join in an open discussion with Ted Purves, Susanne Cockrell and Marnie Badham about new forms of socially-engaged art. Panellists explored the concepy of 'residency' and 'situated practice' as host to social forms of art, encounter, and exchange. 

The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show

20-24 April and 27 April-17 May 2015 - Federation Square

The Maldives Exodus Caravan Show was curated by ASSP member and VCA graduate researcher Søren Dahlgaard with deputy curators Elena Gilbert and Microclima, taking place as part of Art+Climate=Change 2015 at Federation Square. This international group exhibition promoted themes of environmental awareness and climate change with art videos, performance, music and games.

The caravan and inflatable island represents movement in all aspects - both physical and mental - to focus on the current political unrest in the Maldives and resonates with the plight of low lying Pacific island states in the face of climate change. Søren also presented the exhibition Mobile Islands at Gertrude Contemporary, recently reviewed in The Age.

Haunted Rock?

9 May 2015 - Newham Mechanics Institute, Newham

ASSP member and graduate researcher Amy Spiers presents Haunted Rock?, a publication launch and presentation taking place at the Newham Mechanics Institute. Amy has been working with the Macedon Ranges Writers' Group to explore through creative writing the meanings and myths people attribute to Hanging Rock.

Forms for Encounter and Exchange: an artist field school at Laughing Waters Residency

17 May - 27 May 2015 - Laughing Waters, Eltham

A practice-led residency in Eltham, Victoria, took place in May 2015. The ten-day intensive explored artistic strategies of exchange, genorosity, hospitality and reciprocity in contemporary art and society. Designed as a master class with Ted Purves and Susanne Cockrell (San Francisco and California College of the Arts faculty) the residency was convened by artist-researchers and ASSP members Marnie Badham and Amy Spiers, and Margaret Summerton at the Arts and Culture team at Nillumbik Shire Council. Participants in the project were selected through a competative expression of interest process.

Public Forum, Simon Wilkinson

10 March 2015 - Australian Centre for the Moving Image

Simon Wilkinson is a multi-award winning and internationally renowned artist whose interactive, transmedia and immersive works cross over into performance, installation, theatre, video art and elaborate interactive mult-platform narratives.

This forum event, presented by Federation Square's Creative Program and hosted by ASSP member Robert Ellis Walton, included a presentation by Simon Wilkinson on the most recent developments in interactivity, multi-platform, virtual reality and technology based arts; the event was followed by a discussion and audience Q&A. 

A Research Workshop with Claire Bishop

18 December 2015 - Art, Dodds Street, Southbank

Claire Bishop, Professor of Contemporary Art at the Graduate Centre, City University of New York and author of Artificial Hells, conducted a research workshop and lecture for ASSP members, graduate researchers and staff members of the VCA. 

The Star Pavilion

17 November - 18 November 2014 - Queen Victoria Gardens, Melbourne

Ufologists, Astronomers, Raelians, Sci Fi Buffs, Cosmologists, Werewolves, Moonlight Dancers and Astrologers: The Star Pavilion celebrated starry nights and all things celestial in the MPavilion space and surrounding gardens. Hosted by ASSP member Veronica Kent with Sean Peoples, as members of The Telepathy Project, with the aural assistance of dreamy chanteuse Sophia Brous and friends. 

Practice as Research

13 November - 14 November 2014 - Film and Television, Grant Street, Southbank

Honorary Fellow of the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music Dr Amanda Ravetz (Manchester School of Art, UK) presented a two-day symposium and workshop on arts practice and research, entitled 'Learning from Experience: Perspectives on Reverie'. Dr Ravetz's research spans the fields of art and design, film and anthropology, taking the form of academic writing, filmmaking and live collaborations with artists.

Kindly supported by the ASSP, MIN and MOB VCA Research Clusters, and hosted by the Centre for Cultural Partnerships and Film and Television.

Whisper in My Mask

16 August - 16 November 2014 - TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville

The TarraWarra Biennial 2014: Whisper in My Mask, curated by Natalie King and Djon Mundine, featured the work of ASSP member Veronica Kent with Sean Peoples, as members of The Telepathy Project. Taking a line from the evocative song, 'Art Groupie' (1981) by Grace Jones, the title of the 2014 Biennial, Whisper in My Mask, signals an exploration of masking, secrets and hidden narratives as psychological states.  

The Big East (BIGGERER)

4 October 2014 - Bedford Park, Ringwood

ASSP member Kiron Robinson hosted a one-day event, The Big East (BIGGERER), the second in a series of site relational exhibitions based around Ringwood, the last of the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne before entering the Outer East. Utilising local community halls and the surrounding area, artists were invited to respond to these sites. The event featured work by eleven artists, including fellow ASSP member Sanja Pahoki.

John Vella Public Engagement Lecture

1 April 2014 - Federation Hall, Grant Street Theatre, Southbank

The second ASSP public engagement lecture featured John Vella, Director of Program (Art), Tasmanian College of the Arts, University of Tasmania. John Vella commits acts of physical and conceptual frottage on communities, objects and systems; ‘rubbings’ that recycle the act and artefact of lived experience. Mediating status, value and ‘damage by design’ Vella develops diverse testimonies to the epic and incidental aspects of our personal and material histories.

Claire Doherty Public Engagement Lecture

25 March 2014 - Federation Hall, Grant Street Theatre, Southbank

The first ASSP public engagement seminar series was launched with the Director of Situations (Bristol, UK). Claire spoke about how Situations began, the challenges of and what was discovered through projects such as Slow Space Oslo and Nowhereisland. Claire initiated Situations in 2003 following a ten-year period investigating new curatorial models beyond conventional exhibition-making at a range of art institutions including Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, Spike Island, Bristol and FACT (Foundation of Art and Creative Technology), Liverpool.

Lois Weaver Workshop: Beg, Borrow and Steal

24 March 2014 - Performance Space 3, Southbank

An informal practice-research, participatory workshop that looked at academic research methodologies alongside contemporary performance practices led by Lois Weaver, independent artist and activist and Professor of Contemporary Performance Practice at Queen Mary University of London. This workshop was presented by the Matters of the Body Research Cluster and the Art, Social and Spatial Practice Research Cluster.

Art & Encounter symposium, Festival of Live Art

15 March 2014 - Footscray Community Arts Centre

ASSP members Amy Spiers and James Oliver launched a new annual symposium, Art and Encounter at FOLA, the inaugural Festival of Live Art.  This first event was aimed at generating public debate on key issues of practice for socially-engaged, participatory and live art today. Artists  and artist researchers who work in the expanded field of participatory art but align themselves with a range of disciplines (from contemporary art and community art to live and socially-engaged arts) came together to address these concerns. This was presented in association with CCP, ASSP and Footscray Community Art Centre. Art and Encounter will return in 2015.

Creative Time Summit

25 October 2013 - Federation Square, Atrium and outdoor screening

The Centre for Cultural Partnerships (CCP) at VCA partnered with New York-based public art commissioning agency Creative Time to host a live-stream of the Creative Time Summit 2013: Art, Place, and Dislocation in the 21st-Century City on the screens at Federation Square. The event gave Melbourne-based artists, curators, activists, critics and writers interested in social practice, community-engagement, public art and urban intervention an opportunity to gather together and hear international speakers discuss topics related to the intersection of art and social justice.

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