feedback etc...

Posted by Gemma on the 26th of July, 2011

Ben Forster got feedback etc... up and running in Perth earlier this year. Ben acts as the administrator of a loose 'club' that provides feedback on request for exhibitions/finished works.

feedback etc... runs on an interesting model generated originally by ClubsProjects inc, (ClubsFeedback), a Melbourne 'society' that operated the sessions out of their own project space. ClubsProjects/Feedback grew out of a group of artists looking to keep the intensity of artschool peer discussion running and to provide a support network for artists wishing to sustain their practices outside of the 'institution'. It worked for them: many of the Melbourne Clubs members are pretty successful, or at least prolific.

Ben moved to Perth from Canberra earlier this year, and found the art community fairly insular, one that didn't really talk much beyond its little groups. There's also a documented and regularly discussed lack of published criticism in Perth, and often exhibitions can slide on by without note or response. feedback etc... is a way of getting around this, a way of introducing people across generations and disciplines, and of generating discussion and response that an artist might otherwise miss. The formula it runs on tries to circumvent the responses of people who have either spent three to four years participating in the attack zone of university art reviews or have come to the work without any experience of contemporary art at all (feedback etc... is good like this: it encourages participation from everyone, anyone, etc).

The model runs like so:

1: There is a moderator that oversees the proceedings. The artist is present, but does not speak about the work.

2: Stage One is an exhaustive 'observational' session, where participants literally describe what is physically in the space without making judgement calls, without describing affect. Just what's there, extensively and in plain language. This goes on for a while, and it's surprisingly challenging to apply language to work without reverting to habitual art jargon.

3: The moderator then initiates Stage Two, which is a targeted 'responsive' discussion that unpacks some of the issues that come up in Stage One. This is where connotative meaning begins to be discussed and everyone works out what the actual work in the room is doing, rather than what it isn't doing, or what they'd prefer it to do.

4: Then, a series of questions are formulated from this discussion, and put to the artist who can then respond, or not respond if they don't care to.

Usually by this stage everyone is very tired, and needs to eat cake or chips or drink a coffee, and the discussion continues elsewhere, informally. Sessions tend to progress quite differently depending on the moderator and the group. Everything is generally negotiable as well - the artist decides on the location and size of group providing feedback and so on, and Ben will try to find a suitable moderator, a team of participants that will provide both variety and quality of response and also anyone who might be of use to the artist, the aim being ultimately the generation of useful networks.

There is a more detailed description of how feedback etc... operates at and sessions can be requested here as well.

The original Clubs Projects site is here.

(Image courtesy of

feedback forum for Jackson Eaton's The Third Wheel