Have just returned from Auckland to learn that that my application to Arts Queensland for my own private neon oasis was successful! By way of introduction, my own private neon oasis intends to generate opportunities for creative research and cultural production inspired by a suburban location, situated 20 minutes south of the Brisbane CBD; a place where conspicuous individual consumption clashes with indeterminate collective impulses. For my own private neon oasis, Sunnybank is a kind of muse.
Sunnybank is characterised by multiple shopping centres and car-parks. The increased settlement of Chinese migrants during the 1980s has significantly influenced the Sunnybank community, its design and has provided the area with a distinct cultural identity. The project is motivated by this culturally dynamic location, where the generic pre-determined architecture of the shopping centre and connected public spaces are continually recycled and re-adapted. In-between public spaces, or sometimes ruins, such as alleyways and parking lots, have become sites where economic activity, developing cultural practices and identity are co-opted regularly. In discreet areas everything is foreign: noticeboards, authentic foods and street fashion specific to the area. Immersed in this ambience, not knowing the language, it’s easy to be a tourist in your own backyard.
The project aims to develop and present a series of projects in the public realm. At the centre of the project is Sunnybank, which serves as both inspiration and a kind-of-headquarters for research or fieldwork, site interventions, happenings and/or discursive interactions. The premise is founded on the idea that curators, artists, designers, performers and writers should be powerful and active agents in society, engaging in a dialogue extending to the outside world. It values public interaction, physical connectedness, and contributes directly to place-making. As a laboratory for creative research, the accumulation of visual materials and texts is considered a creative process to communicate about and understand the primary site, not only as a geographical location, but as a concept.
Ultimately, the project is concerned with facilitating a hybrid articulation of distinctive places or dual cultures: consider complex connections, initiate a dialogue that bridges physical distance, further overlap and expand the margins of cultural engagement. In effect, the process will further document different practices, histories and identities in-flux, related to the transformation of daily life and culture in Sunnybank. Documented primarily through the accompanying bilingual publication. As a contemporary arts publication it will feature essays with lots and lots of images.