Amplify: Story, Resistance, Radio is the latest exhibition at Tin Sheds Gallery. With an evolving and interactive programme, it’s about more than just a static display of objects.
October 18th, 2023
With a focus on sound, radio and the importance of listening in urban politics, Amplify: Story, Resistance is – at least in part – an exhibition on sound, particularly in terms of the relationship of music and radio to acts of resistance and protest in the city as well as the history of mobile sound systems. The Tin Sheds takeover, however, is in fact much more than an exhibition. Through a concentration of the medium of sound in this particular gallery space, it’s also an attempt to create an active, participatory and evolving experience.
“It’s about how productive music and radio are at the community level, as well as the threats to them,” says co-curator and Head of Urban Discipline at the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning, Dallas Rogers, who also appears in INDESIGN #90. “We’re exploring that by actually asking people to come in and make radio or music, and to talk about them – it’s not just static in that way.”
The exhibition is varied and wide-ranging. Perhaps most notably, it involves a live ‘Pirate Radio’ performance with ongoing broadcasts and podcasts. Over the course of six weeks, a series of events are set to take place – indeed the programme itself is evolving during this whole time. The events include film screenings, a pirate radio workshop for kids, futuring workshops and various performances.
“The exhibition is generative – it’s supposed to actually connect people to amazing work that has been done and continues to be done in grassroots organisations,” says Clare Cooper, Lecturer in Design at the University of Sydney. “A big driver for me is that people who are currently struggling to find a way in during times of crisis and disconnection might actually find a radio show or a piece of history that can become a kind of foothold for them to get involved.”
As a takeover with resistance and protest at its heart, ‘Amplify’ makes more than a passing nod to the roots of the original Tin Sheds as a space for grassroots activism. When set against the more institutional landscape of Sydney’s arts scene, it’s something of an anti-exhibition, or at least one that seeks to question the assumed limits of the gallery space. The visitor is invited to explore the space that seems to open up between the university as a prestigious cultural and institutional on one hand, and the connections to local community activism on the other.
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“A lot of thought and feeling has gone into designing a space where people feel like they can genuinely contribute – there isn’t a hierarchy of presenter-to-audience,” explains Cooper. “At this moment in time, I couldn’t curate a show that’s just projecting art or design at an audience. Since the opening day, people have gravitated towards making their own personal contribution.”
The active and generative role of visitors in the evolving exhibition is a key reason why the curators have chosen to explore these issues in and around sound through the medium of an exhibition space. “It’s an anchor, a place where people who have ideas about the past and for the future can do something and have a conversation,” explains Rogers.
The curators describe how events, such as the panel on race, representation and Indigenous journalism, have already been feeling transformative as the gallery space turned into an intimate place of conversation. “It brought together a group of people who might not have been together in any other event,” adds Rogers.
Community consultation has also been crucially important, with the exhibition having been informed by futuring workshops with active sound and radio makers. “There was a temptation to make it a nostalgic show about activist radio in Australia, but the voices in the room when we consulted community said no to that,” says Cooper. “Instead, it’s futures-focused – looking at present challenges but also what might come next, what the futures of creative, critical listening and community radio could be.”
‘Amplify: Story, Resistance, Radio’ is an engaging invitation to explore sound and protest in space at the Tin Sheds Gallery. With its evolving programme of events, the exhibition runs from October 5 to November 18, 2023.
Tin Sheds Gallery
Courtesy of the Sydney School of Architecture, Design and Planning
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