Quarterbred – live art overlords? Or just nice guys? You decide.

Posted on October 12, 2009 by


lala talks with Mish Grigor from Sydney performance curators Quarterbred.

Quarterbred, can you tell me how this started?
Well, the lovely Lara Thoms and Di Smith were having an ongoing conversation about how amazing the PACT space is and what it has meant to a lot of artists and groups in Sydney in the last few years, but that it was only being used by one section of the wider community… So they called a meeting with a bunch of cool dudes like myself and we started dreaming up ways to open it up to new communities of artists and audiences, to put on new types of work at PACT, and also to promote the types of work that couldn’t really happen anywhere else. And then we talked to the ladies who run PACT and they have been amazingly supportive in providing space and heaps of other support, and from the amazing works that were coming out of Quarterbred we decided to start Tiny Stadiums, and etc etc etc

And why? who are you?
Why? I guess cause of the big shifts that have been happening in Sydney over the last few years, with Performance Space moving to Carriageworks and what that means for the communities around the organisation, and PACT shifting its focus to more of a ‘present-y’ type of role, and because we felt like there were loads of inspiring artists around who needed a place to try stuff out, and cause we just get really excited from a curatorial perspective by all the works that we have been able to support and provide a context for, and various other reasons.

We are an army! I copied this from the website cause I couldn’t be bothered to type it all out…
Kate Blackmore is a Sydney-based video/performance artist and new media archiver. She is also one quarter of the artistic collaboration Brown Council. http://www.browncouncil.com
Ashley Dyer is a performance maker, producer and workshop facilitator. He is currently working on three new collaborative projects involving dance, installation and music.
Mish Grigor is a performance maker and cross disciplinary artist, working primarily in the collaboration ‘post’ who devise new performance works.www.postpresentspost.com
Matthew Kneale is a Melbourne-based project director focused on making live performance/installations in public spaces. He is also a set and costume designer who has worked nationally on opera, dance and theatre.www.matthew.collabo.net
Jade Markham is an artist-in-general who also works at the library, studies and performs collaboratively. She makes super 8 films and slides too.
Tim Maybury is a musician, writer, curator, broadcaster and educator in art theory.
Emma Elizabeth Ramsay works in video, community radio sound and installation
Sarah Rodigari is a live artist who creates performance, video and installation through public encounters and social exchange. She is also one half of Panther.
Diana Smith is a video/performance artist, curator and writer. She is also one quarter of the artistic collaboration, Brown Council who create hybrid performance and screen based works. http://www.browncouncil.com
Lara Thoms works across new media, installation and performance. Her work is often interactive and interdisciplinary, responding to untraditional spaces and audience relationships. http://www.spatnloogie.com

What sort of events do you do?
Well, this October Quarterbred we have Bunheads, a hair and art event, as well as an afternoon of Monthly Friend, put on by the girls who just did ‘Nature League in North Melbourne’ at the Fringe, and residencies for some Sydney artists who are part of Next Wave’s ‘Kickstart’ program.
In the past we have done a roller disco, created a ghost house, had showings of new contemporary dance works, been a place for development for works like ‘Emergence’, that toured the country, or ‘Six Minute Soul Mate’, that won Adelaide Fringe. We have had sound art nights, live art weekends, a performance documentation video library, symposia, bbqs, short works nights, heaps and heaps and heaps of stuff.

And what is the criteria for your events?
Well, all of the directors have really different interests and practices outside of Quarterbred, so the basic rule is if we are all excited about a project or group of artists, then it gets in.

And so many ladies, what does Ash think?
Well Ash has two boyfriends now, new to the team, so there isn’t SO much of an imbalance…

There is a strong sense that the audience/performer relationship is important in the work that you are curating, if we call some of these works ‘live art’ can you tell me what your engagement with this term is? It seems to me that the idea of theatre and performance art and visual art all seem to blend here and that this generation of makers from Sydney that have come out of PACT don’t see the boundaries between these things.
Its true, and one of the criteria that we asked people to address when we have put out callouts for ‘Tiny Stadiums’ is the experience that the audience will have. I think that basically comes from us as curators, or us as audiences, having an interest in seeing work that engages with the typr of audience experience it is creating, even if that type happens to be more traditional ‘sit quietly and watch’ in style.
This term ‘live art’ is still something that we are getting our head around, and its weird that it has come into such usage across the country in the last two or three years, with TITTROTT, and EXISTin08, and Live Works, and Melbourne Fringe naming it as a category… I guess for us there seem to be a lot of blurring between the terms that you have mentioned, or artists trained in visual arts who are now making works that might be seen as theatre or whatever… And there are projects that might have been called something else ten years ago but now seem somewhat attached to the term ‘live art’… But mostly for us the works that we are programming aren’t exploring crossovers of form as the main part of their idea, they are just using the tools that they have seen used by other artists… It doesn’t really feel like these types of projects are new, it just feels like there is a context and a community around these works, both locally and nationally, and so lots of people are trying it out or becoming interested in ‘live art’ as a way to make sense of their ideas… Maybe….

Do you have a sense of lineage of this type in Sydney, through people like Sydney Front, Gravity Feed and Deborah Pollard etc?
Not at all. What we are doing is totally original and unlike anything that has ever happened before.

And finally the way that Sydney performance has invaded Melbourne through Next Wave i feel is a healthy breaking down of barriers between the two cities, i was talkign to Martin de Amo and he hadn’t even met some key people in Melbourne’s dance scene, indeed to some he is quite unknown despite how ubiquitous he is in Sydney. Do you feel like a cultural ambassador for Sydney or are you a citizen of the world?
Umm… We love Melbourne. And we also love Sydney. Quarterbred has just appointed three directors in Melbourne because we are interested in getting more of a direct connection going… We feel really lucky to know some amazing artists down there. We’re really only invading Melbourne so that we can make more friends like that, and discover their work, and show it off to our Sydney friends.

Some of these questions are nonsense and were meant as witty repartee that you and i would have had in a live interview. The kind of scripted mayhem that is employed on killer shows like Good News Week and Spicks and Specks. Just think of me as a fat Mikey Robbins (he’s not as funny when he is thin), and you can be Myf Warhurst.
Is this still part of the interview? It’s a nice touch. Although a small disclaimer, I am actually a lot more funny when I am offline. That is, in person, when I can just work ”Off The Cuff” and let the lines come to me in response to the often hilarious comments that you are throwing at me fast like flaming arrows of comedy gold.
I hope that you frame this correctly when you publish it online in your e-letter.
Also, I like to think of our conversations as less ‘Mikey vs Myf’ and more “Gretel Killeen vs Big Brother”. You are Gretel and I am the earpiece and you are aging but smarmy and I am small but informative, making jokes directly into your inner ear and telling you what to do.

Mish Grigor is prone to bouts of paranoia and balloon-phobia, do not approach her in public.

Posted in: Interviews