If you happen to live in Australia (or know someone who does), then you might be interested in the final episode of series 2 of Marcus Westbury’s Not Quite Art. This final episode is on ‘DIY museums’ and how cultural institutions are adapting to the digital environment. It screens on ABC TV on Tuesday night (october 28) at 10pm, and then is available for free download with the rest of the series and series 1 on the show website.
Marcus and I have known each other for nearly a decade now and his career to date has been about supporting and developing emerging Australian cultural work. He established the This Is Not Art annual festival, was the director of Next Wave in Melbourne, and is now working hard to convert Newcastle, 2 hours north of Sydney, from a former industrial town into a thriving creative space with flexible spaces for emerging artists of all persuasions.
What Marcus has done in the DIY Museums episode is look at how ‘memory institutions’ are dealing with the reality that they are no longer the sole arbiters of collective memory; nor are they necessarily well placed to collect the burgeoning diversity of contemporary culture and cultural expression. As one interviewee says “everything now is a niche, just the size of the niche differs” – and this poses enormous problems for those who job it is to collect. Fortunately, the same digital tools of production that are, in part driving this diversity, are also providing the means for others to collect and present – again, another challenge for established institutions.