Monday, February 27, 2012

Susan Shulman: Notes from Down Under, Part 1

Susan Shulman is a Canadian artist who I have featured on this blog before in her collaborations with the Kalicorp Collective, and the Mount Analogue project. In the next few posts, Susan turns guest blogger with her impressions from a recent trip to Melbourne, Austriala. All photos were taken by Susan Shulman.

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I spent three weeks combing the city’s galleries, museums and streets, eating and breathing art at every corner. What I thought would be an easy assignment has turned into an explosive overload of creativity. Melbourne is a city of inspiration, in a country of stunning beauty. It will take time to process all I have seen. These are the highlights.

State Library of Victoria, Melbourne

I went to the State Library of Victoria to meet Robert Heather, curator and manager of Collections Interpretations at the library. I had no idea about the size of the building I was about to enter. I was shocked to find myself at the “Hogwarts-like” domed library in Melbourne Australia. Inside I was in awe of the La Trobe Reading Room. It is a panopticon, designed to allow the head librarian to watch everyone from a raised mid-point without the attendees knowing they were being viewed. A similar design was used in prisons in the eighteenth century to monitor the inmates.

The reading room, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne. 

Robert graciously gave me a tour of the premises and the vast collection of priceless manuscripts on display, and explained their historical backgrounds. The library holds over 1.5 million books as well as collections of photos, artworks, and items of interest. So much caught my eye, from illuminated manuscripts to miniature books. Each bookcase and wall beckoned me on. I was excited to see a section on graphic novels. I had no idea that Australia had a long history of comic book publishing, and the library prides itself in holding a large selection of the finest comics, graphic novels and ‘zines. In front of me were the original sketches of “Sin City”, and “In the Shadow of No Towers” by Pulitzer Prize winning artist Art Spiegelman. Spiegelman created this comic based on his experiences after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack on New York City.

Top: Susan Shulman and 'zines. Bottom: Detail of Art Spiegelman's work.

Kalicorp Down Under

I was really excited to hand out “Kalicorp Art Mysteries” ‘zines around Melbourne, and to find the Kali Edition a new home in Australia. I personally presented a copy of the limited edition to curators Des Crowley and Robert Heather at the State Library of Victoria.

Susan Shulman (centre) with curators Des Crowley and Robert Heathers.

The self titled "Kali" Edition was hand produced in a limited edition of 9 numbered copies with 3 additional Artist Proofs (AP). The edition contains six works each by me, William Evertson (USA), and Ria Vanden Eynde (Belgium). The clamshell case is also handmade and lettered in gold leaf.

The Kali Collective began in 2010 as an experiment in the use of social media to produce collaborative work without the need for a defined home base. We’ve used social media platforms and blogs to invite other artists into a virtual collaborative space, which has resulted in several international projects exhibited in different cities around the world. By bringing our work to the already vibrant Melbourne art scene, I hope I furthered our explorations in how artists can use social media collaboration.

Tomorrow: Susan Shulman sees some of the oldest and the newest art on the Australian continent.

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