Traditionally an Artist-Run Initiative (ARI) provides an accessible 'white box' space where members can exhibit new works, but Bus Projects has expanded its agenda. 'We're trying to maintain a vital voice in the Australian arts scene, which has an increasingly global outlook,' says Gallery Manager Channon Goodwin.
In 2013, with funding and guidance from Asialink, Bus Projects undertook an exploratory partnership with Ruang Mes 56 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Inspired by the low cost world of online communication, it saw artists from Bus Projects and Mes 56 exchanging video and sound files, exploring opportunities for collaboration and exchange. With Melbourne artists travelling to Indonesia to further develop the relationship, the project culminated in an exhibition at Bus Projects, film screenings in Federation Square and a bilingual exhibition publication.
For Bus Projects, Put Up A Signal served their core purpose of providing opportunity for local artists. 'We selected local artists for the project who wouldn't just choose artworks to exhibit but who would invest in the residency aspect of the project. They went over to Indonesia and used their experience not only for personal relationship building in the region, but also in their practice at home,' says Goodwin. 'It's a fantastic note for their CV but it also allowed these artists to stimulate their work in new ways.'
Put Up A Signal had the added benefit of building Bus Projects' profile on an international stage. 'Mes 56 is an ambitious organisation that has come from artist-run roots and is looking to build its capacity. There's a real synchronicity in terms of where we're going and the direction of our programs, which allowed us to share work and share curatorial ideas,' says Goodwin. 'This is something we've grown into. Our pedigree as an artist run space now allows us to engage with other galleries around the world about what kind of organisation we are.'