So. You consider yourself a culture freak. You frequent the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and every new small bar within five kilometres of the city. But have you frequented a venue or gallery that is run, not as a small business, but as a not-for-profit space by everyday artists or musicians? Alongside the behemoth that is the Biennale of Sydney runs a smaller, humbler and more intimate art event. It doesn’t attract the crowds, the funding or the press that BOS does, but SafARI is a dynamic and important contribution to Sydney’s art community.
SafARI is the unofficial fringe event that parallels the Biennale, and it spotlights unrepresented and independent artists. Across a broad selection of contemporary art practice - painting, installation, video - and three venues - the Rocks Pop Up, Alaska Projects in a Kings Cross carpark, and numerous public non-gallery sites - SafARI bridges the shadowy region between the big art institutions and the grassroots of Sydney’s self-made culture.
A few highlights: Dara Gill will be render his own versions of religious medieval instruments to investigate the nature of fear and anxiety. Melbourne artist Julia Holden will traverse painting and film to create hand-rendered stop-motion portraits of artists in movement. And Kurt Sorensen’s painterly approach to analogue photography explores the impact of Australian landscape, in all its post-colonial devastation and beauty, on the human psyche.
This is Concrete Playground’s challenge to you this winter: check out an art gallery that is run by artists rather than art dealers. Go to a place that is purely about artists supporting artists, rather than a retail art space. Talk to the person minding the gallery. Take a tour. Go to opening night and ask the artist something about their work, anything. There’s an entire world, a community, of often-ignored art in Sydney. Be part of it.