Big Fag Press

Archived entries for Media

The Medium and the Message – A review of John Demos exhibition by Chloé Wolifson

The Medium and the Message
A review of Extrapolate: The Art of John Demos, curated by Lucy Brack, at the Big Fag Press, 30 August – 10 September 2015
By Chloé Wolifson

Considered and repetitive mark-making is central to the work of John Demos. Over a 30 year practice employing a variety of media, from the more traditional etching, ceramics, collage and paint to the less conventional but widely available chalk on chalkboard and marker on whiteboard, Demos has created landscapes of the mind, inviting the viewer into his conceptual processes.

Individually Demos’ works are often immersive and can sometimes even feel claustrophobic, however the exhibition Extrapolate: The Art of John Demos at Big Fag Press allowed for breathing room around each work which balanced this effect. The surfaces of most works were covered in the artist’s signature repeated text, including chairs and tables as well as two-dimensional works hung on the walls. The work Whiteboard, Table and Chair, Ensemblage, 1980s consisted of an installation of the aforementioned whiteboard, table and chair, each covered in text – the artist himself conspicuous by his absence in the setting.

The line between practice and final work was regularly blurred, as the temporary nature of chalkboard and whiteboard text abounded, and visitors and Big Fag staff moved about the space which is after all a working studio as well as exhibition space. This provided an atmosphere of warmth to the exhibition.

There is a sense of the personal and subjective in Demos’ arrangement of words which, taken individually and out of context would be devoid of such meaning. The layering of words becomes a mind map, as words such as ‘genius’, ‘ingenious,’ ‘intelligence’ and ‘mentoring’ meld with ‘physics’, ‘quantum leap,’ ‘processing’ and ‘etching’. Just as our internal trains of thought are bound to move synapse-like from one idea to another, connected by tenuous threads which hold their own internal logic, the overall visual effect of these works is of a topography. These vast changing landscapes of text and fields of marks brought to mind those schools of Indigenous Australian painting which depict aerial-like views of the earth. The gradual progression of words also evokes the formation and evolution of habits across time – an internal, psychological typography of its own.

The inclusion of an audio descriptor of the works added an enjoyable layer to the experience of viewing the exhibition. Hearing a male and female voice reciting the words in Demos’ works, distinct, overlapping and sometimes onomatopoeic as they appear on the various surfaces of the works, became a performative element beyond its descriptive qualities.
The development of Demos’ art practice was in evidence across the works in the exhibition, which were dated from the early 1980s up to the present day. However one did not need to look at a catalogue list to understand this history. It was visible in the works themselves, in the conceptual relationships within and between them. And in the 2015 work The Beginning, deliberate yet playfully colourful text marked on a chalkboard signified a freshness and dynamism in Demos’ current practice – signifying that perhaps the best is yet to come.

How amazing!

Elastics / Borrocha / Elástico (2012 Timor-Leste Mobile Residency Archive).

Elastics / Borrocha / Elástico (2012 Timor-Leste Mobile Residency Archive).

It is with great pride that we’d like to congratulate Fiona MacDonald, Narelle Jubelin, Maria Madeira and Victor De Sousa for winning the Fremantle Arts Centre Print Award with their collaborative work Elastics / Borrocha / Elástico (2012 Timor-Leste Mobile Residency Archive).

This is the second time in 4 years that a print produced on the Big FAG wins the most prestigious recognition of excellence in the medium of prints, last time being the collaborative work by artists Lucas Ihlein and Ian Milliss.

Big FAG supported the production of Elastic with inkind administration, prepress, design and some of the printing. It is a great honour to have worked on such an amazing work comprising of ten plates of 2-3 colours and a folder.

The finalist exhibition is on until 15 November, 2015 at the Freemantle Arts Centre.

Read more about the work on Art Almanac and the West Australian.


Big FAG newsletter

It’s cold in July in Sydney, so what we do is rug up and write newsletters over here.
Here’s the latest

Please join our mailing list if you’d like to receive this. If you’re lucky we might post 6 to 8 times a year, definetely less than once a month, and usually it is a crafty wordy work of our in house excellent writer, Lucas Ihlein, but sometimes there is words from all of us.
In print,
the lithographers.

A gift from the FAG headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland

A gift from the FAG headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland

Artist Run Space Resource

moreland council artist run spaces brochure image

Alongside a bunch of artist run groups, Big Fag Press recently contributed ideas to a publication produced by Moreland Council (Melbourne) about setting up Artist Run Spaces. Friends of Big Fag might find some useful info in there, regardless of where you’re located.

The resulting document is linked here as PDF. It was researched and written by Andrew Gaynor and Jane O’Neill.

The Daughters Project Responding to global #genderviolence

tammy brennan daughters zine big fag press

Tammy Brennan is a writer and performance artist who creates music theatre work about the lived experience of gender violence and sexual trauma. You can see some of her previous work on vimeo.

The Daughters Opera is a piece of collaborative contemporary music theatre about gender violence in the 21st century. It is currently being produced by Sydney-based performance artist Tammy Brennan, between Australia and India. A powerful monodrama that spans a massive emotional terrain, the audience enter a mythic realm engulfed by fear, condemnation, sacrifice and ritual directed by acclaimed Indian theatre artist Anuradha Kapur.

Continue reading…

Big Fag Press responds to the Australia Council funding cuts

big fag press crane

Big Fag Press is an artist run organisation founded in Sydney in 2004. Our mission is to foster socially-progressive and aesthetically challenging collaborations within our local communities.

We are artists and designers and we all have our own individual practices, but through the Big Fag we are able to make something that we couldn’t make on our own.

We have never relied on funding to survive. However, we are supported by subsidised accommodation from City of Sydney council which allows us to operate within an otherwise punitive rental economy. We can thus pursue not-for-profit community engagement projects, rather than occupy all our time with the pursuit of commercial income.

Continue reading…

Big Fag in the news


Great shout out from Sydney Media today about our upcoming workshop series, Share a PL8.

The first pilot edition will be facilitated by our very own Lucas Ihlein, winner of the Fremantle Art Centre Print Award 2012 with his joint venture, The Yeomans Project.

Lucas will run the workshop from a rather privileged position, as both a successful artist and as a dedicated printer who knows the nitty gritty of printing with our Big Fag.

The two day workshop will run over a period of two weeks Saturday 9th of August and Saturday 23rd of August.

The first day will be comprised of explanation of how the press works and  a peruse over some of the previous prints produced by us, followed by a discussion of participants’ artwork ideas and workshopping decisions on colour and paper stock for final prints.

You will then go home with that information to create your very own artwork and come back two weeks later to print it, participating in the mysterious workings of our machine to produce special limited edition artworks, yours to go home with.

Sounds good?
All of that for a crazy introductory price of $250>>

Book your place here, only few places left

And here is what SydneyMedia has to say about it>




Big Fag Press Newsletter – November 2013

Here’s our latest newsletter! Full of Novembery goodness…

Networked Printers

Dr Margie Borschke has written an article about the Big Fag Press and the Rizzeria for the Powerhouse Museum’s design website.

Here’s how she begins:

Technologies are often pitted against one another. Print, for instance, is often cast to play the role of the has-been, the also-ran, while digital and network technologies prepare for yet another close up. In this scenario any passion for printed matter tends to be disparaged as nostalgia or explained away as an analog response to the siren call of digital devices. But old technologies can be used in new ways and two artist-run presses in Sydney, Big Fag Press and the Rizzeria, offer an alternate account of print’s continued appeal in a networked era.

You can read the whole article here.

Concrete Playground Visits the Big Fag

concrete playground visits the big fag

Recently we had a visit from Zacha Rosen, who writes for Concrete Playground.

Zacha spent lots of time with us, nosing around with his audio recorder, while we printed some works by Lucas Ihlein and Ian Milliss. The very enthusiastic Zacha asked us a million questions and did everything short of getting his fingers all sticky in the ink himself.

You can read his surprisingly thorough account of what the Big Fag is all about, over here.

While you’re there, you should check out his coverage of our buddies in printing – the Rizzeria and Blood & Thunder, and also The Beehive – a 3D printing outfit in Sydney – it’s all part of his round-up of some of Sydney’s indy-printing options.

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