Sydney’s inner-west played host to the inaugural Live Red Art event, which drew a crowd of over 400 people to the Addison Road Community Centre in Marrickville last Sunday. The Great Hall was transformed into a make-shift gallery with three walls constructed from 250 milk crates stacked 6 high and fastened with cable ties and string, to house print and mixed-media art.
From the stage hung an Aboriginal flag, underneath which computers atop of red plastic crates exhibited videomedia created by the Sydney Academy of Emergency Art and Novacastrian filmmaker, Simon Cunich. The brick walls of the hall displayed a collection of historical political posters presenting calls to action on the struggles of East Timor, Ireland and Palestine, amongst others.
The exhibition showcased the work of 25 artists from Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra and Newcastle. The art fostered solidarity with those encountering political struggle around the world and was unified around the theme, ‘Another world is possible, but we must fight for it’.
The works exemplified how art can be used effectively in activism. Topics explored in the exhibition included anti-war activism; refugee rights; action on climate change; feminism; addiction; sustainability and reuse; Aboriginal rights; communication and censorship; and the commoditisation of resources and people.
Outside the hall, Socialist Alliance hosted a DIY badge-making stall where children created mini-badges exclaiming “I love you!” and teenagers used the DIY opportunity to get crafty in commenting on LGBTI equality. A second-hand bookstall, also housed out of milk crates, proved a popular stall with many punters picking up a pre-loved bargain.
Many people got involved in getting loud with the Wilderness Society’s Samba Crew and took home new percussion skills after partaking in the interactive samba workshops.
A stage area was set up at the base of the grassy amphitheatre-like lawns outside the Great Hall and, with blue skies and abundant sunshine, many took advantage of the bar and BBQ to kick back and enjoy an afternoon of the politically-conscious styling’s of the Greenslide after-party line-up enthusiastically emceed by local activist Rachel Evans.
Kicking off proceedings was Newcastle hip hop duo Dhopec who performed a 45 minute set including shout-outs to trade unions while spray-painting aerosol art that encouraged revolution and solidarity with oppressed minorities.
Following Dhopec was musician Jeremy Harrison who provided a laid-back acoustic guitar session performing his event submission Better Place, a song about the innate desire people have to improve their existence.
Billie Rose Prichard joined the Daily Meds for a change of pace with their high-energy hip hop set. A short break in the music provided an opportunity to hit the bar and lodge last-minute votes for the People’s Choice Award.
Up next was Day of the Meerkat whose loud alternate rockabilly had the crowd on their feet and dancing, and before the final act the winners of the awards were announced.
Roxanne Jones was the winner of the Live Red Art Award for her painting titled The Iranian Prince and the Nigerian Pauper (world’s fattest baby and NOMA victim). Jones’ confronting work looks at inequality produced by capitalism. This piece in particular addresses the harsh disparity between wealth and poverty by drawing attention to the startling extremes of ‘disfigurement’ fostered at each end of the economic spectrum.
The People’s Choice Award was won by Sydney artist Ro Murray who created a large sculpture titled Blue Gold as a commentary on the selling of Australian fresh water overseas. The sculpture is made entirely from recycled poly water piping and held together with cable ties. Murray uses art to comment on a variety of issues including the commodification of natural elements like water.
As the sun set over Addison Road, Fuji Collective headlined the event with their mix of community-minded jazz and funk.
A daylong fusion of music festival and art exhibition, Live Red Art exposed imaginative interaction in activism to a receptive crowd in a day that heralded the commencement of a unique format for future creative events.
Encapsulating the inclusive community-minded grassroots style of Live Red Arts was activist and finalist Farida Iqbal.
“I was raised to feel a deep disdain for the parasitical complex of critics and gallery owners that not only sap the life out of art, but also routinely exploit the artists,”
“Art is also often taught wrong in high school and university, turning it into something overly academic and making young people too self-conscious about it.”
“I think this is to do with capitalism, and we need a complete cultural change about how we view the arts in our society.”
Following the success of this event, the Live Red Art collective is looking forward to expanding efforts and collaborating with local creatives and activists for cinema nights, publications, and further art exhibits and gigs.
More than a one-day event, Live Red Art is a call to action. To get involved in Live Red Arts, please email [email protected]