All The Rage

Posted: 03 Dec 2010  |  By: Andrew Nicholls

The organisation now known as Artrage originated as Perth's Festival Fringe in 1983, a fortnight-long program with a humble budget of $3000. Over the subsequent decades it has grown into arguably Western Australia's most dynamic multi-artform organisation, managing a year-long program of exhibitions and events and winning numerous awards for its innovative approach to arts sponsorship.

Artrage is now based in The Bakery, a former baker's in the middle of inner-city Northbridge that houses a gallery (the Breadbox) and several flexible performance/installation spaces.

Driven by Director/CEO Marcus Canning, Artrage's curatorial approach is largely focused on experimental and less commercial forms of practice. The organisation provides a useful source of support for emerging practitioners and artists without commercial representation, as well as those wanting to expand their work in a more experimental direction. Artrage is fearless in tackling risky and ambitious projects, meaning that its programming can occasionally feel less than resolved, but its commitment to invigorating Perth's notoriously cautious art scene means that its occasional shortcomings seem not to matter. Indeed, Perth is lucky to have at least one such intrepid contemporary arts institution.

Artrage celebrated its twenty-fifth birthday in 2008 with the SILVER festival, the centrepiece of which was a landmark anniversary exhibition at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (see aAR Issue 16). This timely survey provided an overview of the organisation's first quarter century, and for the first time drew critical attention to the significant and often-unacknowledged contribution it has made to Perth's visual culture. Following SILVER's success, the organisation went into an eighteen-month period of semi-hybernation while its energies were focused on the renovation of the Bakery complex. The existing building was gutted and the complex of shipping crates behind it expanded to create a flexible courtyard space for outdoor performances and events, reopening in late September.

One of the first exhibitions at the newly refurbished Breadbox will be Innocent Fun, a solo show by emerging Western Australian sculptor Rose Skinner. One of Perth's most prolific emerging practitioners, Skinner has shown in Queensland, Victoria, regional Western Australia, India, Thailand and Perth since graduating in 2007 (including representation in the SILVER retrospective), and her work is indicative of the exuberance and excess that characterises much Artrage programming. Skinner utilises found objects such as children's toys, play furniture, mannequins, plastic homewares, balloons and confectionery to construct highly-coloured environments for the viewer to explore - celebratory but slightly sinister dreamscapes populated by mutant toys and disembodied limbs. Innocent Fun will represent the culmination of her work since graduation, incorporating sound, smell and taste to create a more submersive installation, accompanied by a series of limited-edition prints.

Meanwhile, Artrage announced its place in the 2012 Perth Arts Festival.

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Issue 38