Collective memory is the basis of a new project that brings 50 years of temporary artworks back to life
Kaldor Public Art Projects is inviting Australians to submit their memories and personal experiences of the past 50 years of art for their new Living Archives project being launched today. The Living Archives project seeks to bring a half a century of art to life through the eyes and experiences of those who have engaged with the 34 Kaldor Public Art Projects presented around Australia.
Living Archives tells the story of the organisation's legacy through firsthand anecdotes from the visiting public, artists, teachers, art lovers and students who experienced Kaldor Public Art Projects over the past five decades.
Launched as part of a new 50th anniversary website, Living Archives is an online archive showcasing personal stories and photographs which provide visitors with a rare glimpse into its history. Kaldor Public Art Projects encourages the audience to become part of the archive by submitting their own stories online.
On launching Living Archives, Kaldor Public Art Projects Founder and Director John Kaldor AO said: “Our aim has always been to bring art out of museums and into the public arena, and over the past 50 years, we’ve presented projects all across Australia from Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. We have been amazed to uncover a ‘public archive’ we did not know existed and wanted to make this project accessible to everyone through an online platform. We’ve already heard so many incredible recollections from visitors across Australia, and the world, but are calling out for more people to come forward with their memories and become part of our history.”
Over 70 participants have already offered up their their personal memories of past Kaldor Public Art Projects for Living Archives, including 95 year old Ellen Waugh who visited the inaugural Kaldor Public Art Project, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Wrapped Coast in 1969. Ms Waugh was then working as a lecturer in Art Education at the University of Sydney and visited Little Bay several times, taking photos of the coast with Kodachrome film so she could project her photographs as slides for teaching. She recalls: “People here in Australia were tripping off to Europe and here was somebody coming and choosing Australia to do a really original piece of work [...] and using the Australian landscape to provide an art that belonged in Australia.”
Adelaide performance artist and sculptor Aleks Danko was selected to participate in Kaldor Public Art Project 2: Harald Szeemann, I want to leave a nice well-done child here in 1971. On visiting Project 3: Gilbert and George, The Singing Sculpture in 1973, he said: “They had a level of composure to keep repeating that over and over again, and it was like throwing the challenge back at the viewer to see if the viewer could actually hold them, so it was a two-way street.”
Zoe Gross has been visiting Kaldor Public Art projects with her grandmother since she was a small child. Now 18, her most vivid memories are from Project 27: 13 Rooms in 2013, where she participated in Swap, a performance work by Roman Ondak. She said: “I was included in this world that isn’t traditionally for children. I got an experience there that not many people had given me.”
Kaldor Public Art Projects transformed the cultural landscape of Australia when, in 1969, it presented the first large-scale public art project presented anywhere in the world: the iconic Wrapped Coast. The organisation has since presented 33 public art projects, transforming the cultural landscape of Australia.
The Living Archives project is part of a program celebrating 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects, running alongside the previously announced exhibition Making Art Public: 50 Years of Kaldor Public Art Projects, created by acclaimed British artist Michael Landy and presented as a collaboration between Kaldor Public Art Projects and the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), from 7 September 2019 until 16 February 2020.
Photo: Michael Waite