From Carrie Miller…
If you’re a world-weary arts professional or terminal art hipster who’s been to the opening of every commercial gallery show and ARI event in the city, what would possess you to hike it a few hours west of the centre of the art world to a contemporary arts festival in Kandos – a place best known for recently-closed cement works that produced the cement for the Harbour Bridge?
Maybe the same reasons that the directors of the festival established it in the first place.
emerged from the dangerously optimistic imaginations of Alex Wisser, Georgie Pollard and Anne Finnegan and began as a conversation in the rural town which had just had its major industry shut down. Finnegan had started Kandos Projects – a space in an unoccupied shopfront where artists could display their work; the upstairs accommodation also allowed for residencies. After Wisser’s own residency at Kandos Projects, Wisser and Pollard of Marrickville’s INDEX, also found themselves drawn to the place that is almost otherworldly yet strangely familiar – like a 1970s film set from that golden age of Australian cinema.
Rather than a tightly curated exhibition bound by a conceptual theme then, Cementa_13 takes the material context of Kandos the town as both its starting point and the source of inspiration for the artists involved. Some have engaged with this materiality literally – working with the physical elements of the town – others are engaging with the people or with aspects of the place’s socio-economic, cultural, environmental and human history. The broad aim is to bring contemporary art into focus in a new context by providing a framework outside the conventional gallery space and for that place to benefit from the language of contemporary art being introduced in such a unique, dramatic yet accessible and engaged way. As the organisers have put it: “The presence of this industrial heritage in the rural heartland of NSW will provide an ideal context for the demonstration of contemporary art’s capacity to describe, engage, critique, and celebrate both the world and our living in it.”
It’s an ambitious project and one worth supporting. Forty artists over four days in a setting that beats the hell out of a stuffy white cube and with a lot more fun stuff to do. Make sure you take your swimmers or do a Sarah Goffman and get your gear off at the local watering hole; camp with your mates and reignite that spark that got you jazzed about contemporary art before the last Sydney Biennale made you want to stay at home and watch repeats of Breaking Bad.