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Foreward 2009|2010 Grant Stevens

There’s a laneway in the Brisbane CBD with a bar on it. But unlike the famed alleys of Melbourne, there’s no graffiti, no allusions to New York or Paris, and to be sure, no pretense to harbour any sort of ‘creative culture’. This is Brisbane after all: famous for XXXX and the sporting teams it sponsors. I met Joseph Breikers at the Public Service Club in 2006 to talk about the plans that he and his friends and fellow Queensland University of Technology graduates Channon Goodwin, Anita Holtsclaw, Daniel McKewen, Marianne Templeton and Tim Woodward had to start an artist-run space. Under a poster of Ian Healy or Wally Lewis, we talked about different working models for Artist Run Initiatives (ARIs), places to look for affordable commercial space, ways to cover rent, ways to stay friends with your friends-cum-business-partners, and the numerous other perils, sacrifices and rewards of starting a business based not on making money, but on supporting emerging artists.

With the wrapping paper recently torn off the Gallery of Modern Art, a fresh director at the Institute of Modern Art and changes at various university museums and commercial galleries across town, Boxcopy opened in 2007 as practically the only ARI in Brisbane. They started with the lofty but admirable premise of hosting a tightly curated program of solo and group exhibitions with limited costs to artists — or subject to funding, actually paying them to make shows. Since then, Boxcopy has hosted 33 exhibitions involving 57 artists (and counting). They’ve also been joined by other artist-run projects like No Frills*, Accidentally Annie Street Space, Level, inbetweenspaces and Independent Exhibitions (IE) in transforming Brisbane into a diverse, dynamic and critically engaging place for emerging artists to make and show work.

It’s sometimes easy to forget that these guys with ‘Boxcopy Co-Director’ on their business cards have other jobs, study commitments, studio practices, bills to pay and private lives to live. That they have survived showing art in sub-tropical heat without air-conditioning, that they have led the way for an impressive network of ARIs, that they don’t all hate each other, that they manage to pay their rents, that they continue to exhibit compelling and engaging new art, that they continue to make their own art and that they are doing all this in a city often relabeled BrisVegas and Brisneyland for its supposed lack of cultural sensitivity, is testament to their hard work, intellectual rigour, ambition, good will and nous. The Boxcopy co-directors want this book to represent the exciting artists and exhibitions that they have hosted over 2009–10. I also hope it goes some way to demonstrate the tireless work of its friendly leaders.

by Grant Stevens

for Boxcopy’s publication 2009|2010

© Copyright 2010. Boxcopy and the writers and artists. Not to be reproduced without permission from Boxcopy.