‘Living Archives’ seeks to bring a half a century of art to life through the eyes and experiences of visiting public, artists, teachers, art lovers and students who experienced the 34 Kaldor Public Art Projects presented around Australia over the past five decades. With over 70 participants who have already offered up their personal stories, the organisation invites others to do the same online at 50years.kaldorartprojects.org.au/living-archives/submissions
Launched as part of a new 50th-anniversary website on Monday 3 June, ‘Living Archives’ is a digital archive showcasing these personal stories and photographs, providing a rare glimpse into its history.
‘We have been amazed to uncover a public archive we did not know existed and wanted to make this project accessible to everyone through an online platform,’ said Kaldor Public Art Projects Founder and Director John Kaldor AO. ‘We’ve already heard so many incredible recollections from visitors across Australia, and the world, but are calling out for more people to come forward with their memories and become part of our history.’
Ninety-five-year-old Ellen Waugh offers her recollection of the inaugural Kaldor Public Art Project, Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s Wrapped Coast in 1969. Working as a lecturer in Art Education at the University of Sydney at the time, Waugh visited Little Bay several times, taking photos of the coast with Kodachrome film so she could project her photographs as slides for teaching. She recalls: ‘People here in Australia were tripping off to Europe and here was somebody coming and choosing Australia to do a really original piece of work […] and using the Australian landscape to provide an art that belonged in Australia.’
Adelaide performance artist and sculptor Aleks Danko was selected to participate in Kaldor Public Art Project 2: Harald Szeemann, I want to leave a nice well-done child here in 1971. On visiting Project 3: Gilbert and George, The Singing Sculpture in 1973, he said: ‘They had a level of composure to keep repeating that over and over again, and it was like throwing the challenge back at the viewer to see if the viewer could actually hold them, so it was a two-way street.’
Zoe Gross has been visiting Kaldor Public Art projects with her grandmother since she was a small child. Now 18, her most vivid memories are from Project 27: 13 Rooms in 2013, where she participated in Swap, a performance work by Roman Ondak. She said: ‘I was included in this world that isn¹t traditionally for children. I got an experience there that not many people had given me.’
The ‘Living Archives’ project is part of a program celebrating 50 years of Kaldor Public Art Projects, running alongside the previously announced exhibition ‘Making Art Public’, created by acclaimed British artist Michael Landy and presented as a collaboration between Kaldor Public Art Projects and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, from 7 September 2019 to 16 February 2020.