Memefest: The best of the world’s critical art and communications in 2014

Am very happy to be involved in Memefest once again this year. Back in 2001, I heard about this crazy plan from my Slovenian friend Oliver and decided to help out. Today, this web based festival of “socially-responsive art and communication” has grown to become a global event with submissions from over 26 countries.

See below and check out the jury’s selections of top works in Visual Communications, Critical Writing and the experimental Beyond category, which I curated this year.

We are very excited to announce this years special Memefest/ Swinburne University Award for Imaginative Critical Intervention and the first Memefest/Swinburne extradisciplinary symposium/workshop/direct action upcoming event.

The award for Imaginative Critical Intervention is given to support critical thinking, as the ability to see situations as they are and imagine them differently in a way that emancipates and leads to transformation through intervention. Such interventions can be many things. They create a rupture in the order of things and aim to redefine our understandings of the relations between being, doing and saying and our fields of experience. Such interventions, conditioned by critical thinking, are tightly connected to the principle of response-ability, an active position of engagement that comes with the capacity to transformatively act in situations, insisting that what matters are the human implications of our interactions and not just market imperatives.

Curated by Lisa Gye and Dr Oliver Vodeb, the recipients of the award will be invited to Melbourne- Australia and will take part in our in residence program.

The award winners are:

1. In the category Visual Communication Practice: Bernadette McGough, Kyle Anthony Magee; Daniel Chittick; David Murphy; Jordan Brown (Australia) for their work Global Liberal Media Please

Kyle Magee’s work, papering over advertisements in public places, takes the position that advertising colonises the public sphere and privatises what should be ours, and that it does so without our consent. He questions the right of commercial interests to take over what is rightly ours, democratically, and thus opens conversations about the dialogic nature of our public sphere.

Kyle’s fundamental argument for democratic engagement is strengthened in a profound way because Kyle’s practice not only intervenes in public space but does so publicly, in broad daylight. In this way he is able to create an intimate and open dialogue with bystanders, police and other media while undertaking his actions. He has spent six months in prison for what often amounts to less than one hundred dollars worth of damage. This has allowed him to also open a dialogue with the judiciary about what he is trying to do and they have, in many instances, been able to advise him on legal strategies because, despite having to punish him for his activism, they also sympathise with what he is trying to communicate. What does this say about the Australian media landscape, and what does it say about Australian democracy? Does one need to be arrested and jailed for bringing such issues to public attention? Kyle’s interventions are intimate, articulate and very brave. His interventions are complex, sophisticated, passionate and inspirational. We have seen a lot of culture jamming from around the word but this activism is truly imaginative. In times where advertising is becoming harder and harder to “touch” as it is less and less image, but more and more data, Kyle shows the power of the embodied dialogue.

This work opens many new and old questions – one thing is sure -in a rapidly changing media landscape in which transparency and trust will be the currencies of the future, advertising will have to change.

Kyle’s work has been beautifully and elegantly captured by Bernadette McGough, Daniel Chittick, David Murphy and Jordan Brown and this video made public is an intervention in itself. A fantastic initiative!

2. In the category Critical Writing: Mariano Mussi (Argentina) for his work Health and Art: a Dialogue of Provocation and Jane Naylor (Australia) for her work What’s in the name? SnackArt and The Ekphrastic agency

Mariano Mussi’s paper questions our understandings of the ontological underpinnings of art and health and asks us to question our assumptions about what we mean by these terms. If health is just an absence of disease, then what is art? What does art lack? And how can art be used to dislodge our assumptions about health? Conventional scientific thinking hinders the dialogue between art and health and the author argues that this needs to be overcome as the two are intrinsically linked. He says that “art and health are turned toward the same aperture, women’s and men’s infinite possibilities that appear on the horizon of their projects.” The award is given for the text’s daring and imaginative intervention into the relations between two powerful discourses and their strictly calibrated points of access to each other.

Jane Naylor’s work also calls into question the ontological status of art and questions art’s function as cultural capital. Her research has led her to a “near total rejection of the artworld, and a substitution of the very foundation of dialogue, words, with [her] own terminology and neologism, *Rt.” This manifests in her works SnackArt and The Ekphrastic Agency, which she writes about eloquently in her Memefest submission. Her work is a proposition for a possible working alternative. In the age of “the end of history”,her approach is timely, relevant and subversive. What could be more imaginative than that?

3. Ren Fah and Anna Mitterer (Austria) for their work Lamentopos in the category Beyond…

It is hard to imagine something more intimate than mourning. But emotions as fundamental as those that we experience when we lose someone to whom we are close are difficult to articulate publically. While emotions are the currency of emotional/cognitive capitalism, public expression of strong emotions such as pain and grief are mostly only welcome when mediated through spectacular media.

Lamentopos makes the profoundly intimate public while creating strong poetic situations which in turn make the intimate public, amplifying the loneliness of the act of mourning. A very beautiful, strong, poetic and intimate work!

Our warmest congratulations to all authors!!

Have a look at the festival outlines here:

And have a look at the main Friendly competition results here:–friendly-competition-results/


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