The ARX Experiment 1987-1999: Communities, controversy and regionality

2005 Conference

Because of its size and geography, Perth has not generally been regarded as a national ‘centre’ for Australian art activity. However, there was a moment – from 1987 to 1999 – when Perth’s art communities hosted a remarkable series of events that attracted local, national and international participation, acclaim and, at times, scathing condemnation. Beset by issues of scale and inclusion, these artist-run and site-specific events proposed a regular and informal meeting place for a diverse and floating ‘community’ of artists during a time of fierce industry professionalisation and institutionalisation. The involvement of art school staff and students was crucial to the continuity of this project over more than a decade. This paper will discuss ARX’s development from earlier forms of trans-Tasman art exchange and the new understandings of ‘region’ that were proposed. In particular, it will question why these cross-cultural strategies between artists within the Asia-Pacific region remain unacknowledged in recent accounts of Australian art history whether ARX retains any significance, as a model or an object lesson, for art schools today.