EXPERIMENTAM

FOUNDATIoNt9SI
PAMELA BROWN INTERVIEWS
DAVID KERR, DIRECTOR.
Howlonghave you been involved with the EAF?
Looking through the 1975 EAF Review, I saw
photos of myself as part of the voluntary
construction crew building this space
-
a small
part, driving a few nails, installing a few panels.
I had enrolled at the Art School and was thirsty
for a visual education after counfless years of
literal and rationalist education. The Art
School didn't have much to offer after the first
year and I moved consistently closer to the
EAF. In 1978 I joined the EAF Council for a
two year term. At the same time I had begun
working publicly as an artist.
And the Council is the decision-making structure
within the EAF?
The Council consists of seven people, demo-
cratically elected from the membership for two
year terms. The majority of Council members
are practising artists and that is balanced with
two or three members from other areas. At
present there is Bill Morrow, a lawyer interested
in art and the law, Ailsa Maxwell, a lecturer in
visual art theory, Rob Thurwell, an art student,
Peter Hicks a community arts officer and poet,
and Jude Adams, Cath Cherry and Jim Cowley
as practising artists. We meet monthly to
initiate projects, discuss proposals for the
program and decide on policy matters.
I{hat aims or guidelines does the EAF work
with?
The EAF has consistently been involved with art
as experimental action that puts up models of
possible ways of understanding or perceiving
the world. This is coupled with an interrogative
approach to accepted societal values and
attitudes. The speculations and theory of
Donald Brook, a prime mover in establishing the
EAF, were used as guidelines in this approach.
What about the developments of the EAF?
Whnt tvne of work went on ovcr those venrn?
books on art theory to be produced. ln 1979
we received money from the Visual Arts Board
to begin an artist in residence program and part
of that money was used to employ Alan Murn
as artist/printer in residence, making the
printery a viable concern. The artist in residence
program also provided for five people from
interstate to spend six to eight weeks at the
EAF, working through a specific investigation.
People who have taken part in this program are
Jeff Stewart, Dale Franks, Bonita Ely, Jenny
Barber, Toni Robertson, Terry Reid, Geoff
Buchan and Eva Yuen Man-Wah.
I gather that there is some kind of transition in
the EAF at present. I am wondering whether
this is because of you taking over as director,
with Noel Sheridan taking up the directorship
of Dublin Art College, or because of Lindsay
Parkhill going to Praxis in Perth, or whether it
is a response to general shifts in the current
art climate?
The EAF has always been a product of what
people put into it, and it has changed its
appearance as many times as priorities and
energies have changed. If there is an issue
surfacing amongst artists, or an apparent need,
it will find its way into the Foundation's
activity, either through general members or
through the director as a liaison person. There
is a transition or change which the EAF is
undergoing, there always has been and has to
be;but it is not a change in method so much
as a change in emphasis because of new people.
There will always be new people.
What of the creation of ttre position of
Community Artworker at the EAF?
That's another fresh input. Jude Adams'
appointment has meant another set of exper-
iences and another injcction of energy. The
nonition of
(lorrurrunilv
Artwrlrker hue nlso
That projects an important role for artists in
the future.
It's important that the open-ended investiga-
tions, the experimental modelling, continue to
occur if our culture is to evolve. And it's
important that such pursuits are aired for
appraisal. The role of the EAF is to facilitate
this. The information centre, printery, seminar
space and gallery are there to facilitate it.
So it seems the EAF is concerned with changing
outmoded notions like'avant-garde' art.
We are not essentially involved in avant-garde
pursuits. Avant-garde art belongs to conven-
tional notions of art. It is exploratory but
within ayery tight structure. Aesthetics are
essential to its practise. To open ended experi-
mentation, to modelling possible new under-
standings or ways of perceiving art in a life
context, aesthetics are only incidental
-
it is
part of the presentation after analysis or part
of the crafted artworks byproducts that spin
off along the way.
I think it is wasted energy trying to put
some punch back into the term 'avant-garde'
-
better that it dies. As I said earlier, if art is to
remain viable it has to leap outside the con-
ventions and see its role in an inter-relationship
with other societal institutions.
Well, what's been happening at the EAF in
recent months and what is coming in the
rest of 1981?
Our recent program has included the provision
of a venue for the national Artworkers Union
Conference;the AGDC travelling show, 'Art
in the Mail'; Lorraine Hepburn's
oDissolve'as
experiences in perception; performance by
Wendy Teakel and David Jensz;performances
from the Art School; Bonita Ely as artist in
residence; Geoff Buchan from the Broome
Arts Group as artist in residence and an exhib-
ition of the developments of the Broome Arts
Group; the 'Lovely Motherhood Show', which
is now touring (see Art Network classifieds);
the publishing of 'EAF Performance Week,
March 1980', Jenny Barber's 'Womens Move-
ment: South Australia'and a revised edition
of Donald Brook's 'The Social Role of Art'.
Our next project is a series of workshops
in documentation, the results of which will be
used to produce a book on and from the 1981
Come Out Festival. We will also be publishing
Bonita Ely's'Murray/Murundi', Marr Grourtds'
'Oxiclc Strcct' uncl tlro report ol'tlrc l9tl0
What about the developments of the EAF?
What type of work went on over those years?
How has it evolved?
The initial spaces provided agallery
lperformance
venue as an alternative to commercial gallery
space, and an information centre. The inform-
ation centre was given an initial boost with
books andmagazines from Noel Sherridan's
collection and this was supplemented by
purchases of publications recommended by
members or bought by people travelling inter-
state and overseas, and by making contact with
any groups related to our activities. The gallery/
performance space has been used by groups
from within or in conjunction with the
EAF, by individuals wishing to present their
work for criticism/feedback, for AGDC travel-
ling shows, for talks/discussions by visiting
artists and theorists, for performance programs,
seminars, sttldy groups, films and music. To this
space we added a printery to handle EAF
publications at a production cost which allowed
small editions of good quality artists books and
44
4PPUlIrtlrrgllL ltalD lllvarrL alltuLrfiit DriL ur irfLPEr'
iences and another injection of energy. The
position of Community Artworker has also
meant an expansion of our activity. Jude's
time has initially been taken up with coordin-
ating the 'Lovely Motherhood Show' but in the
longer term it will be to facilitate discussions
amongst community arts officers, community
artists and artists generally, that critically
analyse developments in practice and theory
in this area. I've had feedback from members
fearing that the EAF is changing its emphasis
too much towards community arts. This is a
misunderstanding of the dynamics involved or
of the social responsibilities of art. To the
extent that other community art programs
educate non-artists in the development of art
skills, and to the extent that these skills are
thought of as well as craft technique, the
conventional notions of art begrn to be sub-
verted. Art becomes demystified, language
develops to link it with other societal
institutions. For example education, architec-
ture, town planning and welfare.
Bonita Ely's 'Murray/Murundi', Marr Grounds'
'Oxide Street'and the report of the 1980
National Artworkers Union Conf0rence.
In May/June the AGDC travelling show,
'Australian Artists Videotapes'will form the
basis of a review of video as an art medium. In
July we will show the 'futists Against Uranium
Exhibition'. Bill Furlong, editor of Audio Arts
Magazine, will be touring Australia in August
and basing himself at the EAF. Discussion
seminars will be held on the theory and practise
within community arts programs, photography
theory, and a study group in semiotics. And
Toni Robertson will be artist in residence until
mid-June.
These are some of the events coming up, it is
by no means a complete list. The EAF has to
remain flexible so that it is responsive to
developments that arise. We announce the
program, as it emerges, through our monthly
newsletter to members.
The Experimental Art Foundation
169 Payneham Road St Peters Adelaide 5069 tr