Leading contemporary artists from the Imperial Slacks artist collective of the late 1990s have reunited in a new exhibition jointly presented by Sydney College of the Arts (SCA) and Campbelltown Arts Centre.
The exhibitions reconnects 15 artists known as ‘The Slackers’ who formed the Imperial Slacks Project between 1999 and 2002.
Imperial Slacks formed as a social and cultural experiment that functioned as the home, studio and gallery in the Imperial Slacks warehouse in Surry Hills, Sydney.
At the time, several artists exhibited their work at Imperial Slacks with many going on to lead successful and significant careers, including the core group that feature in Cosmic Love Wonder Lust. Those exhibiting artists are: Shaun Gladwell, Angelica Mesiti, Emma Price, Sean Cordeiro and Claire Healy, Wade Marynowsky, Alex Davies, Techa Noble, Michael Schiavello, Chris Fox, Melody Willis, Lea Donnan, Simon Cooper, Laura Jordan and Monika Tichacek.
“We suffer amnesia when it comes to pinnacle moments in Australian culture. Imperial Slacks galvanized the energy of a group of emerging artists that challenged the moral values and boundaries of Australian culture in the late 1990s. These experimental artists produced exciting, seductive and socially-relevant art that gave a new impetus to the role of artists in society” Nicholas Tsoutas, SCA’s Zelda Stedman Lecturer in Visual Arts, University of Sydney.
We suffer amnesia when it comes to pinnacle moments in Australian culture.
The Slackers – an ironic term given they were extraordinarily active and generative – used Imperial Slacks as a critical space to test alternate attitudes towards curating. Their collective incandescent energy and alternate way of thinking created a pulse beyond the gallery, bringing an intensity and sense of chaos to life beyond the space.
“Imperial Slacks was a new and challenging model of artist run space that generated a new form of cultural production, a model that was refreshing and inspired a new set of possibilities for contemporary art in Australia. They knew no boundaries and they set their independent agenda’s while claiming a special place in Australia Contemporary Art,” said Michael Dagostino, Director, Campbelltown Arts Centre.
Imperial Slacks was a new and challenging model of artist run space that generated a new form of cultural production, a model that was refreshing and inspired a new set of possibilities for contemporary art in Australia.
The artists are presenting artworks previously exhibited during the Imperial Slacks Project alongside new works responding to their practice at that time at both SCA Galleries and Campbelltown Arts Centre. It is also an archive project representing several videos from the personal collections of all the artists. The project will provide an important resource that will allow audiences, many for the first time, access to the history of Imperial Slacks.
Newly-commissioned works in the exhibition include a new installation by Sean Corderio and Claire Healey consisting of the fuselage of an aeroplane, enclosed within the gallery and attached with crochet made by the artists with community support. Simon Cooper takes a piece of clothing from each of the Slackers, and using embroidery techniques, creates a tactile sculpture installation. Laura Jordon creates an installation of robotic bats that communicate by mobile phone.
In 2002, after rent increases became too much, Imperial Slacks ended with the final exhibition Slacking Off.
With mostly all of Sydney’s inner city warehouses now falling victim to loft conversions or being re-deployed as design showrooms as is the case for Imperial Slacks, the opportunities these spaces offer artists are fast disappearing. It’s not just artists who lose out in the end, our cities also become homogenous.
Cosmic Love Wonder Lust: The Imperial Slacks Project, is co-curated by Nicholas Tsoutas, Zelda Stedman Lecturer at the University of Sydney’s SCA and Campbelltown Arts Centre Director Michael Dagostino.
14 August – 12 September 2015
15 August – 18 October 2015