Events


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24 February 2024

Artists’ Syllabus: Jenna Lee

Testing Grounds Emporium, 438 Queen St



Melbourne Art Library is delighted to welcome Jenna Lee to lead our next Artists' Syllabus.

Artists’ Syllabus invites local artists and designers to select and share a text that has been influential to their practice. By sharing selected passages, the artist will give unique insight into the significance of the text from their perspective. Through this exploration we will seek to discover the direct, tangential or unexpected ways the text has had an impact on the artists’ chosen discipline/s, creative process, and approach to presenting completed works. In group discussion, we will untangle the themes explored in the text and bring attention to those formative passages which sparked an ‘ah-ha moment’ or cemented in the mind. More broadly, we will get together to exchange our ideas (and our reading lists).

We will be discussing two essays from Becoming Our Future - Global Indigenous Curatorial Practice (Art Gallery of South Australia, 2020): 'Around and Within' by Freja Carmichael and 'Mother Tounge, Gertrude Contemporary' by Kimberley Moulton.

We'll be meeting at the Melbourne Art Library at the Testing Grounds Emporium, 438 Queen St, Melbourne from 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm on Saturday, 24 February.

RSVP to be sent an extract of the text.

Supported by City of Melbourne Arts Grants and Michael Robertson.

Image: Gianna Rizzo.

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Jenna Lee is a Gulumerridjin (Larrakia), Wardaman and KarraJarri Saltwater woman with mixed Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Anglo-Australian ancestry. Using art to explore and celebrate her many overlapping identities, Lee works across sculpture, installation, body adornment, moving images, photography and projection.

With a practice focused on materiality and ancestral material culture, Lee works with notions of the archive, histories of colonial collecting, and settler-colonial books and texts. Lee ritualistically analyses, deconstructs, and reconstructs source material, language and books, transforming them into new forms of cultural beauty and pride, and presenting a tangibly translated book.

Driven to create work in which she, her family, and the broader mixed First Nations community see themselves represented, Lee builds on a foundation of her father’s teachings of culture and her mother’s teachings of papercraft.

Represented by MARS Gallery in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia).

8 December 2023

Distribution Forum: Artist Run Initiatives

Testing Grounds Emporium, 438 Queen St

Join Isabella Hone-Saunders and Lucie Loy of Seventh Gallery, Sophia Cai of Bus Projects and Beatrice Rubio-Gabriel and Katie Paine of KINGS Artist Run Initiative as we discuss the role of artist run initiatives in knowledge sharing.

Supported by the City of Melbourne.

29 November 2023

Artist’s Syllabus: Scotty So

Testing Grounds Emporium, 438 Queen St




Join Scotty So for an artist-lead reading group. We’ll be discussing opera divas, gay men, and cross-identification as we read an extract from Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics by José Esteban Muñoz (1999)

Scotty So is a Melbourne-based artist who works across media, using painting, photography, sculptures, site-responsive installation, videos, and performance. Driven by the thrill of camp, he explores the often-contradictory relationship between humour and sincerity referencing lived experience. Born and raised in Hong Kong, So’s work has been shown in Australia, China, Hong Kong, and Europe. Scotty So is represented by MARS Gallery in Australia.

Supported by City of Melbourne Arts Grants and Michael Robertson.


11 November 2023

Artist’s Syllabus: Cats Like Plain Crisps

Blindside Gallery, Nicholas Building, 7/37 Swanston St


Join Melbourne Art Library, Blindside and multidisciplinary collective Cats Like Plain Crisps for a discussion with the artists inspired by a reading by Carolee Schneemann. We'll be discussing two texts by Carolee Schneemann: 'Of Cats, Dreams and Interior Knowledge' (1989) and 'From More than Meat Joy' (excerpts published in 'Happenings and Other Acts', ed. Mariellen Sandford, 1995).

Carolee Schneemann’s Cats is the inaugural exhibition of the international collective Cats Like Plain Crisps—whose members’ practices include visual art, sound art, filmmaking, performance, and writing—and explores the potential of the feral lurking within the domestic. Borrowed from an old piece of graffiti, the group’s name encapsulates some of their concerns: public art, fieldwork, objets trouvés, and text/writing. It also speaks to a posthuman and ecofeminist orientation as well as a playful, inclusive creative approach.

Members include Yang Yeung, Hong Kong; Shauna Laurel Jones US/Iceland/UK; Viv Corringham, UK/US; Roseanne Bartley, NZ/Australia: Johanna Hällsten Sweden/UK; Iris Garrelfs, Germany/UK and Cath Clover, UK/Australia.

Supported by City of Melbourne Arts Grants and Michael Robertson.


9 November 2023

Distribution Forum: Indipendent and Alternative Libraries in Naarm

Testing Grounds Emporium, 438 Queen St



What power dynamics are at play in the distribution of information? How democratic is ‘collective’ knowledge? And how are individuals and collectives disrupting the flow of information?

The Distribution forum series prods, unravels, makes-visible, and excites non-mainstream ways of information sharing. Engaging publishers, editors, and alternative institutions, the series explores active projects in Naarm/Melbourne that question the traditional flow of information.

Join Melbourne Art Library, Another World Library, and Murmur Library as we discuss the role of independent and alternative public libraries.

Supported by the City of Melbourne.

Melbourne Art Library is a not-for-profit lending library that collects specialised art and design texts. Our reading room in the Testing Grounds Emporium in Naarm/Melbourne’s CBD is open four days a week. We are proudly independent and are curious about what being a 'library' means.

Another World is a library and research project for imagining socially and ecologically sustainable futures in community. The library is focused on theory, poetry, and fiction that opens up possibilities for radical change. AW has previously been in residence at Bus projects, Watch This Space Gallery, and Arts Gen, and has run multiple workshop series on utopian and speculative theory and fiction.The Utopian Visions Research Collective has developed as an offshoot of the AW Utopian Visions workshops, with the group meeting regularly to learn together and think about possibilities for the future, through writing, excursions, readings, art, and film.

The Murmur Library is dedicated to providing a space for people and their stories to exist outside of the white gaze. Their focus is to highlight and house Black, Indigenous and other culturally diverse voices in poetry, fiction, non-fiction, children’s literature, zines and magazines.


4 November 2023

Artists’ Syllabus: Jessie French

Testing Grounds Emporium, 438 Queen St




Melbourne Art Library is delighted to welcome Jessie French to lead our next Artists' Syllabus.

For this Artists' Syllabus, Jessie will be leading a discussion around Karan Barad's essay "On Touching: The Inhuman That Therefore I Am." Jessie will also draw on experience from her own practice.

Artists’ Syllabus invites local artists and designers to select and share a text that has been influential to their practice. By sharing selected passages, the artist will give unique insight into the significance of the text from their perspective. Through this exploration we will seek to discover the direct, tangential or unexpected ways the text has had an impact on the artists’ chosen discipline/s, creative process, and approach to presenting completed works. In group discussion, we will untangle the themes explored in the text and bring attention to those formative passages which sparked an ‘ah-ha moment’ or cemented in the mind. More broadly, we will get together to exchange our ideas (and our reading lists).

We'll be meeting at the Melbourne Art Library at the Testing Grounds Emporium, 438 Queen St, Melbourne from 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm on Saturday, 4 November.

RSVP to be sent an extract of the text.

Supported by City of Melbourne Arts Grants and Michael Robertson.

Image: Jessie French working with large sheet works in the Other Matter Studio, 2022. Photo: Phillip Huynh.

2 November 2023

Creative Resident: Lara Chamas 

Testing Grounds, 391 Queen St




As an artist, knowledge, learning, sharing, and research usually take different modes, not limited to just reading and writing. Where does this fit in within an institution?

Reflecting on my time in academia, during my time in the library I have pondered; what constitutes knowledge, what makes knowledge valid when it doesn’t fit in a box? Where does cultural knowledge, storytelling, anecdotes, gut feelings, oral history go? And why isn’t it automatically good enough?

Join Lara for a discussion and sharing around the 'dining table'. Light refreshments provided.

Proudly supported by the Besen Family Foundation.


16 September 2023

Artists’ Syllabus: Ruth Höflich

Testing Grounds Emporium, 438 Queen St


Melbourne Art Library is delighted to welcome Ruth Höflich to lead our next Artists' Syllabus.

For this Artists' Syllabus, Ruth will discuss Esther Leslie’s essay: “Fog, Froth and Foam: Insubstantial matters in substantive atmospheres” in relation to some themes in her own filmic works. The informal presentation will also draw on examples of prose and poetry that have informed her ideas.

Artists’ Syllabus invites local artists to select and share a text that has been influential to their practice. By sharing selected passages, the artist will give unique insight into the significance of the text from their perspective. Through this exploration we will seek to discover the direct, tangential or unexpected ways the text has had an impact on the artists’ chosen discipline/s, creative process, and approach to presenting completed works. In group discussion, we will untangle the themes explored in the text and bring attention to those formative passages which sparked an ‘ah-ha moment’ or cemented in the mind. More broadly, we will get together to exchange our ideas (and our reading lists).

We'll be meeting at the Melbourne Art Library at the Testing Grounds Emporium, 438 Queen St, Melbourne from 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm on Saturday, 16 September.

Supported by City of Melbourne Arts Grants.

Image: Ruth Höflich.

Esther Leslie is Professor of Political Aesthetics at Birkbeck, University of London in the UK and this particular essay was published as part of the anthology ‘Electric Brine’ edited by curator Jennifer Teets. The publication is associated with the online study group Matter in Flux of which Ruth is a member.

Ruth Höflich is an artist who works with moving image, photography and peer dialogue. Often starting with the photograph as the daily imprint of energy and information flows, her work combines speculative and experiential elements to animate the sub-visible and interstitial spaces of images and how we relate to them.

Superimposing different sensory and cognitive registers, her work builds on the history of montage techniques in experimental filmmaking where cadence is considered a tool for accessing new contingencies. Unseen images are anticipated through the space of relation or the milieu of the cut. In turn, each project becomes an exercise in form-finding and an attempt at articulating emergent properties, sense or atmospheres within existing architectures of sight and logic.

Her work has been screened and exhibited internationally, including most recently the National Gallery of Victoria (2023); Callies’s, Berlin (2023); Gertrude Contemporary (2022); TCB Inc. (2022); Rotterdam International Film Festival (2021); Images Festival, Toronto (2021); She Makes Noise, Madrid (2021); Pravo Ljudski Film Festival, Sarajevo (2021); Art Gallery of NSW (2021); Art Encounters, Timisoara (2021). She was the recipient of the the George Mora Fellowship at the State Library of Victoria (2019), and the Emerging Artist Award of the City of Munich (2016) and completed residencies at Banff, Canada and Grizedale Arts, UK amongst others. Currently a studio artist at Gertrude Contemporary, she also collaborates as part of Halpert/Höflich and is a member of the study collective Matter in Flux. She teaches into the Honours Program at Monash University as well as the Print and Drawing Department at the Victorian College of the Arts. Ruth holds an MFA from Bard College, NY.


12pm-5pm, Thursday-Sunday

Melbourne Art Library, Naarm
Testing Grounds Emporium,
438 Queen St,
Naarm / Melbourne VIC 3000
We acknowledge the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the traditional owners of the land on which we operate, and respect their enduring connection to country. Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

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