WeMakeStuffGood, Don’t Ban the Can, Sketch City, Court Jester and the Graffiti Art/Street Culture/Bar Tour. I had heard about these groups but weren’t aware of the connections until it was explain to me by Krystal Stuff. The connections are in the Brunswick warehouses and on the WeMakeStuffGood webiste that has become a portal of various evolving projects.
I had a meeting with Krystal, Rob and Drew of WeMakeStuffGood at the Court Jester in Breese St. Brunswick. I’m still trying to organize things for the Melbourne Stencil Festival but that is a whole other topic.
The Court Jester on Breeze St, Brunswick is a gallery/restaurant with an arts/warehouse atmosphere. A large wooden table carved with tags runs the length of the space. Lead Belly singing the blues on the stereo and an Eastern European menu featuring goulash, pierogi, and blintzes cooked by David from recipes taught to him by his mother and grandmother. I’m not going to write a restaurant review as I only had a cup of chai at the meeting.
Hanging on the walls of the Court Jester there are paintings by Maxcat and other artists in a variety of styles. There was a series of views of Sydney streetscapes by Rudy Kistler and quirky sculptures made of very weathered junk by Brunswick artist, Becky Bonnets. Outside there is a very large wall of aerosol art by various artists playing with the jester theme.
I wanted to find out more about WeMakeStuffGood and this unfolded into more information about the other associated groups and projects. Last year I went to their Don’t Ban the Can event and the subsequent exhibition at 696. I had also read about their projects in the local paper. They were well organized and media savvy, both with the internet and using the local paper to great advantage.
Krystal, Rob and Drew all met at RMIT doing the Animation & Interactive Media course. Rob and Drew describe their practice as “video” but Krystal describes her practice as “social media”. Establishing and exploring alternative organizational structures has become a predominately technological issue rather than a politically stagnant topic. The technologies to facilitate alternative organizational and communications structures are burgeoning. As Krystal said: “Facebook is just a phone and it’s free to use.” Geographically the collective is mostly based in various warehouses around the old light industrial back streets of Brunswick. The organizational structure of WeMakeStuffGood is like a terrorist organization with a very flat hierarchy and many independently functioning cell groups. This ensures that even if one group ceases to work this does not stop the other groups from operating.
Their website currently lists about 25 members, with 2 in Sydney. The WeMakeStuffGood crew all use of the surname of Stuff is reminiscent of the Stooges (Iggy Pop was originally billed as ‘Iggy Stooge’ and the rest of the band also had the same surname) and the open identity of Monty Cantsin. The use of “Stuff” as a surname creates a collective identity for the cooperative.
It is not enough to simply to produce art, artists also have to live, eat, communicate and organize. The influence that artists can have on a culture depends on their ability to organize and communicate. In this respect WeMakeStuffGood has made a good start.