Exhibition | If People Powered Radio: 40 Years of 3CR | Gertrude Contemporary

Old photo of 3CR billboard.

Photograph courtesy Charlotte Clemens

Opening tonight at Gertrude Contemporary a new exhibtion that celebrates 40 years of Fitzroy’s community radio sttaion 3CR.

Exhibition dates: 18 March–23 April 2016

Exhibition opening: Friday 18 March, 6–8pm

The exhibition will be opened by Robbie Thorpe, who has been a part of 3CR for as long as the station itself.

Contributors: 3CR, Audio Working Group, Charlotte Clemens, Megan Cope, Nicole Curby, Brighid Fitzgerald, Emily Floyd, Helen Hughes, Andrew McQualter, Spiros Panigirakis, Trent Walter/Negative Press, Liquid Architecture, Lucreccia Quintanilla, Natalie Rambaldi, Reko Rennie, Arika Waulu

If People Powered Radio: 40 Years of 3CR is a collaboration between Fitzroy’s oldest community radio station, 3CR and one of Fitzroy’s oldest galleries and studio complexes, Gertrude Contemporary. Celebrating 40 years of 3CR, the exhibition will explore the station’s history of radical broadcasting and how it has thrived in its endeavour to foreground the often unheard voices of Aboriginal people, women, workers, ethnic and GLBTIQ communities, differently abled people, environmentalists, artists and musicians. The exhibition will present a combination of recordings, technological hardware, and photographic, written and graphic documents from the station’s vast historical archive.

In addition, If People Powered Radio presents a series of newly commissioned artworks by local artists that frame and translate the station’s history of radical broadcasting. Megan Cope has created a new window work mapping the broadcast range of 3CR’s radiowaves, utilising Gertrude Contemporary’s front window akin to the way 3CR uses its Smith Street building: as a public site to broadcast messages visually. Andrew McQualter has produced a new suite of drawings made in conversation with numerous past and present staff members and volunteers at 3CR, which explore the station’s organisational structure and the shape of its community. Arika Waulu presents a video montage with photographic and filmic documents from the 2006 Stolenwealth Games and Black GST campaign – which was strongly supported by 3CR – projected onto an installation of painted paper bark native visas that acknowledge the sovereign nations that pre-existed European settlement in this country.

Lucreccia Quintanilla borrows from 3CR’s unofficial archives: the ten volumes worth of documents compiled on the station’s activities by ASIO that date back to 1976, the year that 3CR was established. Selecting passages from these documents and utilising them as scripts, Quintanilla voices moments of discussion and debate from 3CR’s history in which the political and structural identity of the organisation seemed poised for change. A starting point for Brighid Fitzgerald’s new work is 3CR’s slogan, ‘sewing the seeds of dissent.’ Fitzgerald presents a banner-like fabric pasted with the seeds of historical and more recent local flora. T-shirt patterns line this fabric, proposing that bodies may wear and further disseminate the seeds. In the main gallery, Spiros Panigirakis has constructed a to-scale timber framework of 3CR’s meeting room at 21 Smith Street, Fitzroy, replicating its windows, doorways and walls, as well as its mansard ceiling. 3CR’s meeting room is a site where different voices come together, and at Gertrude Contemporary, it will host live events as well as house numerous historical documents from the station’s archive, including a photo wall.

If People Powered Radio also presents a new poster collaboration between 3CR and Gertrude Contemporary. Every year, 3CR commissions a Radiothon poster (as can be seen in the collection of posters displayed in the exhibition) and this year has worked with Gertrude to produce three new posters: two by former Studio Artists, Emily Floyd and Reko Rennie, and one by Charlotte Clemens, who designed and hand-painted a large mural for 3CR on Victoria Parade in the 1970s. As well, Melbourne artist and publisher Trent Walter of Negative Press will produce a large-scale poster based on archival documents exploring 3CR’s constitutional policy.

Lastly, over four Friday evenings from 5–7pm, there will be a series of live outside broadcasts from the exhibition space featuring campaigns, current affairs and local musicians, including one curated by sound art organisation, Liquid Architecture, and a Saturday evening live broadcast of 3CR’s experimental music program, Let Your Freak Flag Fly.

If People Powered Radio is an opportunity to explore the politics of broadcasting and listening, and the different material and aesthetic supports that facilitate 3CR’s engagement with its diverse publics.

Supported by Yarra City Council.