Category Archives: workplace relations

‘Socially Engaged Artists’ are people who…

‘Socially engaged artists’ areĀ  people who get to count as artists be virtue of their usual or self-defining artwork-making role within the artworld.

They then make use of this status (exploit it, if you like) by messing about in the real world outside the artworld, making things and doing things that they want people who normally would never go into an art gallery to look at and think about in the best sort of open-minded way in which people who do go into art galleries look at and think about things.

…that is to say, as sites of potential illumination (the acquisition of new memes) in any of the domains of human concern: moral, political, economical, scientific, legal, charitable, religious, and whatever. Even aesthetic illumination if there is such a thing (whatever, if anything, an aesthetic illumination may amount to that beats seratonin stimulators).

-Donald Brook, email to Lucas Ihlein, 14 September 2013.

Reconciling Values

Recently I posted these brief thoughts on the issue of Transfield’s sponsorship of the Sydney Biennale, over at the Open Engagement blog: The blog post is part of a series that OE is hosting, where 100 questions are posed, broadly addressing ethics and aesthetics around socially engaged art practice. The series is co-ordinated by Gemma Rose Turnbull, Ariana Jacob, and Jen Delos Reyes.
Continue reading

Personal Narrative in the Digital Age

Yesterday I participated in an online discussion with Anna Poletti, as part of the 2014 Digital Writers Festival.

Our discussion panel was entitled “Personal Narrative in the Digital Age”, and was archived on Youtube. You can watch it here or here.

We spoke about autobiography and its relationship to blogging and micro-blogging platforms. One of the interesting ideas coming from Anna’s work is that autobiography doesn’t need to be “written” or even “narrative” – it can be constructed unintentionally via a fragmentary collage of phatic publishing events (like “pokes” in facebook, or the curated uploading of bio-images and other professional data).

We also talked about the current craving for “authenticity” and coherence, which may be the flipside of this more fragmented kind of identity formation process.

I enjoyed the online discussion format – and I hope that more conferences can be run this way in the future – definitely less travel per unit of discourse!

My work with re-enactment…


I’ve been working on re-enactments in one way or another since about 1996, when I did a performance work called Cornflakes in Perth. It was, in some way, about the daily re-enactment of getting out of bed and eating breakfast.

Another early work, The Peg#24 Pieces (1996), in collaboration with Mick Hender, explored the relationship between performative action and score.

Fluxus and Happenings:

In 2002, I conducted (sort of in the way a conductor conducts an orchestra) a re-enactment of Albert M Fine’s Fluxorchestra for 24 Performers. It was part of a project called Bilateral, where I lived in the gallery of the Experimental Art Foundation in Adelaide for the duration of the exhibition.

The Fluxorchestra was a classic Fluxus event which had a wonderful series of scores (one for each participant) that could be followed, and drew in many members of the local arts community for a celebration of the absurd. I’d very much like to do it again sometime.

In 2009, I worked with Nick Keys and Astrid L’Orange to re-enact Allan Kaprow’s Push and Pull – a Furniture Comedy for Hans Hoffman – a happening/environment from 1963. This was part of There Goes the Neighbourhood, at Performance Space.

Our version of Push and Pull was documented heavily as a blog.
The great thing about this was that the documentation from our re-enactment goes back to the Allan Kaprow estate, where it becomes part of the ongoing narrative about this work.

Expanded Cinema:

Via Fluxus, I became fascinated with Expanded Cinema, which is a performative branch of experimental film culture from the 1960s. There are significant crossovers between Fluxus, performance art and Expanded Cinema – VALIE EXPORT and Carolee Scheeman being two examples.

Working collaboratively with SMIC (Sydney Moving Image Coalition), and in particular with Louise Curham, I embarked on a series of experiments with re-enacting key works of Expanded Cinema from the past. These early attempts (2003-5) were pretty rough but they set us on our path. Our later works were very research intensive.

Here’s some info about our re-enactment work with SMIC (which we later renamed Teaching and Learning Cinema).

Our two most significant Expanded Cinema re-enactments to date are:

Anthony McCall’s Long Film for Ambient Light (1975) (re-enacted in 2007)(about which I wrote a chapter for Amelia Jones and Adrian Heathfield’s book Perform Repeat Record.


Guy Sherwin’s Man with Mirror (1976) (re-enacted in 2009-onwards).

In May 2013, Louise Curham and I went to London to begin work with Malcolm Le Grice on re-enacting a work of his from 1971, Horror Film 1. This re-enactment will continue to be developed during 2014.

This is a fairly clear description of our general work with re-enacting Expanded Cinema.

Daily life in a Cagean frame:

My 2005-6 twin projects, Bilateral Kellerberrin and Bilateral Petersham, were for me an “evolved re-enactment” of John Cage’s 4’33”. In the methodology underlying these projects, I took Cage’s 4’33” as a format or template, and shifted it to my own time and place. While Cage’s piece tends to be performed in a concert hall, and lasts only four minutes and thirty three seconds, my projects took his template into a neighbourhood social sphere, extended the duration to 2 months of my own daily life, and registered the chance occurrences through blogging. (To be clear: at the time, this Cagean connection was not foregrounded publically as the reason for the work’s existence, but was rather an unspoken skeleton shaping my daily practice).

Intergenerational Revisitations:

In 2011, I began working with Ian Milliss, a veteran Aussie conceptual artist, on a re-enactment of his Yeomans Project from 1975-6. It is in some ways more of an enactment, in that the original work never came to pass back in the 1970s. This intergenerational contact (Milliss, as well as Guy Sherwin, Anthony McCall, etc) is an ongoing part of my practice.

Discussions around re-enactment and performance:

In 2012, I convened a panel discussion with Christopher Hewitt and Andrea Saemann, on re-enacting performance art at University of Wollongong. It was part of a symposium called Expanded Documentary.

Lucas Ihlein – Philosophy of Teaching

The following text was written up for two reasons. First, I was invited to be an external “Artist-Teacher” for Carrie Ramig, an MFA student from Vermont College of Art in USA. The college required me to submit a “philosophy of teaching” statement. (A what?)

And second, I’ve been enrolled in a “University Learning and Teaching” (ULT) subject at University of Wollongong – theory and activities to help improve my teaching practices at tertiary level. This ULT subject also required me to write up a rudimentary “Statement of my Conception of Teaching”.

I’ve tried to put it as clearly as possible – and it doesn’t have much in the way of contemporary educational theory. You could look at this as “where I was at before I read a whole lot about tertiary classroom education and spoiled my innocence” …
Continue reading

“Experimental Art” is a Tautology

In the process of putting together a grant application on behalf of the Big Fag Press, I’ve been thinking a little about the notion of experimentation in art. This has been prompted by a new category of funding, called “Experimental Art Grants“:

These grants support artists, groups and organisations investigating experimental arts.

It is an open grant category for any stage of your experimental arts activity that meets the selection criteria.

Some examples of what you might apply for include investigating new emerging and experimental arts processes in a creative arts lab or through workshops; initiating innovative creative collaborations and partnerships; or creating and/or presenting new and experimental art work.

To keep this program as open as possible, Inter-Arts will consider any proposal from artists proposing to explore emerging or experimental arts.

Two questions:

  1. what the hell is “experimental art”?
  2. are there any examples of art which are not experimental?

…if the answer to question 2 is NO, then what is the need for this grant category?
If all art is inherently experimental, then surely the existing categories of art funding would already adequately support the experimental.

Continue reading

“The Artist as…”

social intersections screen shot

In 2012, together with m’colleague Brogan Bunt, I had the pleasure of creating and teaching a new subject at UOW called “Social Intersections“:

This subject examines how creative practice can engage with social forms and processes.
The aim is to encourage conceptually informed, interdisciplinary practice that reflects upon dimensions of social space and history. Students gain a critical understanding of relevant traditions of creative practice and develop individual and collaborative projects that reconsider the relationship between art and society.

The students did some really interesting projects and we had a bunch of excellent discussions in class about this “new” form of art, which engages with social relations as a material. We had good experiences with getting the students to use blogging to track their own progress throughout the semester.

I’m in the process of archiving the class blog, and clearing the decks so that in 2013, our new batch of students can start filling it up with their work.

I figured that some of the lecture notes from the subject might be more widely useful, so I’m cross-posting them on this here blog. Below I have cut and pasted an entry I wrote under the notional title of “Modes of Engagement”, which was intended to provide a cross-section (albeit incomplete) of ways in which artists might engage with the world, by acting “as” practitioners of other (non-art) disciplines…

Continue reading

WordPress Pharma hack removal instructions

these are notes to self compiled with help from greg. not guaranteed to work for others. proceed with caution!

Starting from this:

– —

1. back up the database and uploads folder, and your theme folder, and scrap everything else (wordpress core files and plugins).

(copy whole wordpress folder to “mywordpressfolder.pharma” for example – you can always retrieve files you need from this folder later)

(backup database via myphpadmin to desktop)

delete original wordpress install folder.

– – –

2. run those SQL commands on the infected database:

delete from wp_options where option_name = ‘class_generic_support’;
delete from wp_options where option_name = ‘widget_generic_support’;
delete from wp_options where option_name = ‘fwp’;
delete from wp_options where option_name = ‘wp_check_hash’;
delete from wp_options where option_name = ‘ftp_credentials’;
delete from wp_options where option_name = ‘rss_7988287cd8f4f531c6b94fbdbc4e1caf’;
delete from wp_options where option_name = ‘rss_d77ee8bfba87fa91cd91469a5ba5abea’;
delete from wp_options where option_name = ‘rss_552afe0001e673901a9f2caebdd3141d’;

(make sure the quotation marks are “raw” quote marks (unformatted, not “smart”)

when inside phpmyadmin, hit the “SQL” tab and cut and paste the above code within the “run SQL query on database”

– – –

3. check the uploads folder for bad files

using the terminal (ssh shell)

cd wp-content
find uploads/ -name *php -delete

– – –

4. reinstall latest wordpress and plugins from scratch

using dreamhost one click installer, put new wordpress install where the old one used to be
point the database to your old database

however, dreamhost thinks you’re making a brand new blog, so gives a new database table prefix to this new install. it also makes the new wp-config.php file point to these new database tables.

so, you need to edit your wp-config file to set the database prefix to be wp_ (ie, the old database tables prefix)

now in phpmyadmin, delete the new database tables which dreamhost created:
(select them and then click “with selected” and then “drop” (in sql, drop means delete table)

– – –

5. Move the cleaned uploads, and theme folders to their normal place

(move them from mywordpress.pharma to the clean mywordpress folder)

in terminal:

cd ~/

mv mywordpress.pharma/wp-content/themes mywordpress/wp-content/

and also:

mv mywordpress.pharma/wp-content/uploads mywordpress/wp-content/

6. check it all works! If so, then move to next step…

7. Delete the mywordpress.pharma folder:

rm -rf ~/

Two new fun things to do…

What I’m working on right now:

Environmental Audit
A project as part of the MCA’s exhibition “In the Balance: Art for a Changing World”. In my contribution, I am carrying out an ‘environmental audit’ of this exhibition itself, which has an overt theme around environmentalism and sustainability. My work is an ongoing project running from start of July to end of October 2010. It’s made up of of social interactions with artists and museum workers, a series of blog posts, and a series of prints produced on the Big Fag Press and delivered regularly to the MCA during the course of the exhibition.

A gardening project at Sydney College of the Arts in Rozelle. Initiated by Ross Gibson, who commissioned me “to make a garden and write a blog about the process”. A dream project for me combining two of the things I love to do. I have coerced Diego Bonetto to work with me on the project, which runs from July to December 2010, just one day per week.

…see you over at those places!