Everywhere But Here – BLINDSIDE Gallery festival launch

words by –Kate Forsyth

Photos by J Forsyth

Everywhere but Here festival launch, BLINDSIDE Gallery, Nicholas Building, level 7, room 14, 37 Swanston Street Melbourne

“Is there somewhere you’d rather be?” asked the festival program guide for the inaugural BLINDSIDE Festival, Everywhere but here.
“Fucking eh, program guide! I need a holiday so bad. It’s been approximately ten thousand years since my last holiday, so as much as I like it here at this launch, my thoughts are on a tropical island”, replied I.
“Well, weary launch attendee, this festival is a multi-platform event where artists and audiences can connect, discuss and imagine alternate destinations together.
“So perhaps, since you are in wintery Melbourne right now, without prospect nor plane ticket for a tropical locale, you could band together with your fellow patrons and imagine destinations other than this,” continued the program guide.
“Fine.” Sigh.

I plant myself on a stool to watch one of the two major video screenings (Destination Here, and Destination Now) made by emerging contemporary artists whose names can be found here.
The first video has me feeling like I am looking through a Kaleidescope. It’s pretty and colourful and I am captivated. My alternate destination; childhood birthday parties.

The next is an apartment building that disappears piece by piece, as segments of Footscray’s train station tunnel appear in its place. Double alternate destination for this one! Buying fruit and veg at Footscray Market which is near where I currently live and Vancouver’s Main Street Skytrain station near where I used to live.

Just as my program guide suggested, my mind is starting to wander to alternate destinations, but soon the lights are turned on for a couple of speeches. BLINDSIDE Chair Claire Anna Watson opens the festival and her enthusiasm for art; experimental and other, and emerging artists is obvious. She thanks the committee responsible by name. Not only are many of these dedicated committee folk dressed as though they have their own personal costumier who curates their outfits, they all have arty sounding names. Bam! She’s also very excited that the artists involved have received a fee, and pays tribute to the hard work of BLINDSIDE’s lone part-time paid staff member and the many volunteers who contribute each year to put on 25-plus shows, talks and now the festival.
Next, guest speaker Jo Misuka, who is Director of Experimenta speaks about the importance of place on an art practice. At first, it doesn’t compute, but simply, I think we are all influenced by place, by our location; physical, emotional or otherwise. I can’t imagine I’ll ever write a bangin’ blog post while waiting on a cold train platform for an alleged train, but put me in my happy place and the chances of some decent work skyrocket. The same can be said for mental places. They drive us and stop us as much as physical places.
Jo also pays tribute to the untold hours of volunteer work that goes into initiative which support emerging artists. Which gets me thinking. The love of it, the passion, the hours, the committees. So much goes into supporting art and artists who rarely make a living from their art early on if ever. The hard work of these people and groups gives emerging artists a leg up, and some of them make it commercially. Then lawyers and stockbrokers buy their art. Suddenly, I’m at another alternate destination; watching The World Around Us nature documentaries in the 80s. This moment feels like the circle of life, but for art.

Spending some time in the second gallery, I watch a video with tropical leanings transposed over arm waving people – oh yeah, that’s my ultimate alternate; tropical island paradise. Then there’s some people pretending to be sundials on top of a Melbourne building. I’m not transported by this one but I enjoy the sun and the stillness of it.
The festival is on until 8 August with events including exhibitions, art club and residencies. Check out the program and make a donation if you can, as the group is not for profit. Help future artists sell their future art to the lawyers of the future. Good day.