New AGWA Exhibition—Media Space 1981-1986: Challenging Fictions of Cultural Identity

This exhibition presents documentation of the multi-disciplinary projects undertaken by Perth-based art collective Media-Space across its life-span, 1981-1986.

Curated by Julian Goddard and founding member Paul Thomas, it sheds light on a period in Western Australian art when artists such as Judy Chambers, Anne Graham, Jeff Jones, Will Kohlen, Lindsay Parkhill, Neil Sullivan, Paul Thomas and Allan Vizents dissected the social and political role of art to examine, amongst other issues, the colonial power structures that shaped life in this state.

Isobel Wise, AGWA Associate Curator of Australian and Western Australian Art Post 1970, said, “The group’s various explorations of artistic activities and experiences were employed to investigate themes such as suburban expansion, the layout of the city and its modes of graphic embellishment, class and gender structures, as well as pointedly reframing the state’s development narratives (of the period’s economic boom) as being essentially colonialist.”

Media-Space projects drew from conceptual and performance art, as well as emerging computer and telecommunications technologies. In addition to live events and exhibitions, a key element of their work was the documentation and distribution of art works and artistic research through offset lithography, lo-fi photocopied publications and audio cassette tapes.

Robert Cook, AGWA Curator of Western Australian and Australian Art, said, “Much like today’s Artist Run Initiatives that are such a key part of a flourishing arts scene, Media-Space was based on a collaborative ethos grounded in critical discussion about how artists might creatively intervene in and change the culture that surrounded them. To this end, they developed a graphic and textual ‘inquiry model’ that guided their exploration of the world through a very focused consideration of, as they put it ‘the ways that historical, sociological, natural, perceptual, scientific, geographical, archaeological and unknown contexts interconnect’.”

Within this framework, Media-Space’s activities (performances, videos, photo-essays, texts, installations, soundworks) typically allowed for unplanned outcomes and the focused unravelling of expectations about how/why/where art might occur.

Across its five years of activity Media-Space gained a local, national and international profile that included the presentation of the installation REDLINE at AGWA as part of the 1984 Festival of Perth program; the group was integral to a burgeoning moment in the Perth art scene of the early 1980s, that included PRAXIS, The Centre for Fine Arts at the Uuiversity of WA, and the Artworkers Union.

The exhibition is curated by Julian Goddard and Paul Thomas with material from the Media-Space and Allan Vizents archives.



16 July – 20 November 2022 | FREE



Media-Space and Art in Perth 1981-1986

AGWA Theatrette | 2-4pm, Saturday 16 July 2022

This roundtable will bring together speakers Julian Goddard, Anne Graham and Paul Thomas to discuss Media-Space in the context of experimental art practice in Perth in the early- to mid-1980s. Focusing on the emergence of activities that challenged the previous condition of art in Perth, this event will reflect on and extend discussions initiated by the group during this influential period.

Isobel Wise – AGWA Associate Curator Australian and Western Australian Art Post 1970
Honorary Professor Paul Thomas
Professor Julian Goddard
Professor Anne Graham


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