Time & Vision - 3

By Paul Bayley

Helen Pynor, Liquid Ground 1 (detail), 2010. C-type photographic print face-mounted on glass, 160 x 110 cm. edition of 5 + 1AP. image courtesy the artist, GV Art, London and Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney.

Despite the frantic readjustments of recent years following the financial crash of 2008, London remains positioned as a contemporary art capital city.  The laudable establishment of the Australian studio residency as part of Acme Studios International Residencies Programme enabled a generation of artists to witness these seismic changes first-hand.  Indeed by accident or design, Acme’s residency artists found themselves living and working in the east end of London, handily positioned at the epicentre of much of the new, edgier, artistic activity.  From within the post-industrial warehouses of the East End the global was becoming local and the local had acquired global reach.

The internationalism of the art market, the spread of Biennials and the other international residencies which have sprung up have been complemented and aided by a corresponding shrinkage of the wider world we inhabit.  Global air travel has become cheaper and the rise of emerging economic powers has widened the reach of and audience for contemporary art.

The world has shrunk in other ways. New technology is still incredibly new: in 1992 Google did not exist and the internet was in its infancy. its subsequent impact has changed the creative process radically and permanently across all cultural fields. Artists now routinely ‘research’ their practice online whilst being engaged in endless administration and marketing tasks.  Skype and smart phone ‘apps’ mean we can ignore geographical distance and time zones to communicate face-to-face and instantly with collaborators.

Australia, once condescendingly portrayed as either culturally spartan or hot-house ‘exotic’ has become a powerhouse of cultural production. From Ramsay Street to Nick Cave, a pop cultural invasion preceded a more discreet but nevertheless important Australian arts presence in London.

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