February 2024

The Trillenium Bug

Y3K Y3K Y3K Y3K Y3K Y3K Y3K Text: Melissa Loughnan Images: Y3K

Y3K opened in June 2009 and in just over six months has made a powerful impact on the Melbourne art scene. Initiated and run by artist-curators Christopher L G Hill and James Deutsher, the gallery operates through a project-by-project open model encompassing solo and group exhibitions, retail, publishing and events across multidisciplinary platforms including art, architecture and design. Y3K engages with independent and represented artists, other art spaces, programs, initiatives and institutions nationally and internationally. Fundamentally, the gallery explores open-ended creative thought not just bound to fine art. Joining the leagues of The Narrows, Hell Gallery and Lamington Drive, and before them, Uplands and Neon Parc, Y3K offers yet another alternative gallery model and set of ideas at this time of creative insurgence and rise of independent art spaces in Melbourne.

Melissa Loughnan: Could you give me some background on Y3K, how and why it started?

Christopher L G Hill & James Deutsher: We had been fierce rivals during our shared time together at the VCA in the early 2000s, but begrudgingly decided to come together and do the last show at CLUBS Projects Inc. in December of 2005. Through late night installs, micro-vegetable gardens and bubbling rock pools of water we made the decision to be friends and continue to evolve projects together. Y3K came out of World Food in a way, which was a fourth floor panoramic studio in the Melbourne CBD. We, along with Joshua Petherick, Annie Wu, Liv Barrett and Saskia Schut, started the place as a convivial space for practices of design, publishing, curating and art. Over the three years there Nick Selenitch, Matt Hinkley, Simon Taylor and others also worked in the space. We continued to develop a collaborative art practice, which was an active investigation into the roles artists and communities organise, so there was a strong curatorial or inclusive element to our joint outcomes, like the show we did in 2007 called SD&C (Sub-Divide and Concrete) at Joint Hassles. The show consisted a series of sculptural works that we produced together.

Included in each work was a monitor and DVD player with a video work playing. For the video works we curated/invited Hao Guo, A Constructed World, Kain Picken and Rob McKenzie, Saskia Schut, Nick Selenitch, Dan du Bern and Bianca Hester. It was a way of negotiating a collaborative art practice and a collaborative open-ended curatorial practice with a lot of trust. For a while we were talking about how to transfer this kind of trust to a gallery situation, to provide a space that we saw was non-existent in Melbourne, where artists were supported and conceptually engaged by ‘gallerists’, where there was an open freedom for young artists to exhibit alongside established artists, and for local artists to show with international artists. It was also about a desire to break down a certain level of professionalism while increasing commitment or engagement.

There were artists who we had a lot of interest in but who would not foreseeably get the opportunity to show work in Melbourne due to the poor collecting culture of international work and the necessity for dealer galleries to cover their professionalism, like risk management or something. So in that way setting up Y3K was about providing opportunities and seeing what could happen. We wanted a space that could address each project as an individual entity; conceptually, practically and financially; and also somewhere that could not only facilitate a diverse range of arts practice but also a diverse range of cultural practices including design, architecture, dancing, film, object and text culture, relationships and getting drunk. I guess we were talking about these ideas and then the possibility of a site to physically realise the space came up, so we committed to the project in June 2009. We both continue our various other projects outside and inside Y3K.

ML: Y3K is not just a gallery. As you’ve mentioned, it also incorporates retail, studio space and other creative platforms including architecture, fashion, design, and events. Could you tell me about the philosophy of Y3K and its open model?

CLGH & JD: As the space between art and life merges this situation is appropriate for the way we live today. To quote Hao Guo, “Today, how artists or designers get resources, practice and operation are very different than before. So to simply use time and areas to compartmentalise are unpractical techniques.” Of course these areas operate in different contexts, however we are trying to generate a more fluid situation where they can interact in a way that is interesting. The idea of an open model is one that allows us to create our own situation with artists.

We are not an Artist Run Space in the conventional Australian or even Melbournian sense where proposals are called for and artists are expected to sit their own shows, we disagree with this proposition. We are not a commercial gallery, however we can operate commercially. We do not sign artists however we strongly represent them during their time with us. This flexibility as well as our personal relationships with institutions and galleries in Melbourne and abroad allows us to occupy a unique position. We have and are continuing to work on projects with Uplands Gallery, Gambia Castle, The Narrows, Vitamin Creative Space, Next Wave Festival, The State of Design Festival and others. So making the culture between ‘cultural institutions’ more productive is very important, which comes back to the art and curatorial role we were exploring before Y3K and how the role of the facilitator works. Retail is super interesting, the relationship between product, objects and people’s lives simulate the relationship we share with architecture and design and hopefully the space we can create for art.

Another exciting project taking pace at the moment is the hosting of a new bookshop, World Food Books, which comes out of a long-standing desire between Joshua Petherick and James Deutsher to present a tightly curated selection of international arts and culture periodicals, magazines and titles which are currently unavailable in Melbourne to a local audience. The store is mobile but will take residence at Y3K for the next 18 months. So this is another way to keep a dialogue with the world-at-large, which we are all engaged even if distances are great. Given our history of open studio spaces at World Food, it only seemed natural to establish a working space at the gallery. So the open model is about trust and exchange and seeing what happens.

ML: Y3K has a strong web presence through the Y3K blog, Y3K Projects blog and the Y3K and What? Archive. Could you distinguish between the various categories of your online presence? What is the difference between an Exhibition and a Project? Is it a matter of onsite and offsite? Or does a Project not necessarily have a physical manifestation? What role does the Radio section serve, what are you aiming to achieve through it? And why did you feel it necessary to separate your online presence through these three blogs?

CLGH & JD: The idea for the blogs was something like cheap design, to produce a site that had a considered and autonomous feel on a democratic and free/accessible site like blogger. The Y3K blog operates like a website in that it has some kind of navigation system to various pages; exhibitions, projects, shop, radio and more. They are all the same site with consistent formatting and navigation, however to achieve this kind of navigation on blogger each section needs a new address and therefore a new blog.

The ‘exhibitions’ are the shows we host at the physical gallery space in some kind of an exhibition convention. The ‘projects’ are ongoing works which interact with the gallery like Pat Foster and Jen Berean’s desk, the S.I.B.L.I.N.G.- designed door or the table cloth Kit Lee made for his show here, which then became an ongoing game in the space. Also some upcoming off-site projects will be documented here. The Y3K ‘radio’ was initiated by Christopher L G Hill and Joshua Petherick and is another forum for a different kind of speech or interaction, to present download-able, rare, curated selections of music, anti-music, spoken word, audio art works and more. Online presentation is really important, it is how we view exhibitions and projects internationally, that way of keeping in contact.

So it is important to have a space that has that kind of archival presence. Y3K and What Archive? is a blog that began from our involvement with the A Constructed World initiated project SPEECH and What Archive? that seeks to examine the way we archive and how it affects our relationship with the present; who-saves-what and on behalf of who. So it is a much more flexible site where studio visits, installation, sound, dinners and casualness is presented. Sometimes it is very active for a few weeks and other times it is dormant for a while, as opposed to the consistency of formatting and more direct archival and documentation of the Y3K site.

ML: So what can we expect at Y3K this year? Can you give me a run down of your program and the activities/events that you have planned?

CLGH & JD: Jota Castro, Puttying walls, drinking tea, emails, dancing, Simon Taylor, Dylan Stantham, new artist show, sex show, building a pavilion, ffiXXed s/s 2010, Stolen Library Project, Daniel Munn, film screening week, Kate Smith, Liv Barrett, moving house, Eames chairs, Next Wave, building, cloths, tapes, publications, CD-Rs, stickers, dinner, trippy tacos, Mouving, collage, vacuuming, shoes, bags, screw, DJs, mopping, mopping, touching up, Veuve, Nikos Pantazis and Ardi Ganawan, Kain Picken, Rob McKenzie, Daniel du Bern, Ben Tankard, Group Shows, Sean Peoples, Joshua Petherick, working out what to put in my Lanvin shoe box, coffee, plants, Hong Kong, backpacks, Mont Bell, Uplands Gallery, Krystoffiston, Gauntlet, plinths, chairs, nails, magazines, The Age, planting, platforms, ridding dirty, blog, hair styles, Vitamin Creative shop, Tweety pie, reading the funnies, Gambia Castle, repairing, mending rifts, pottery, flowers, trees, jahjahsphinx, coca cola, basket ball, t shirts, hangings, Moffarfarrah, Riots, concrete, openings, bottles, rubbish, May, rock climbing, catwalks, records, tacks and pins, brushes, clothes, sculptures, dancing, compost, printing, paintings, buckets, ciggies, drinks, fruit, tablets, semiotext(e), photocopies, desks, universal, abstracts, laziness, dresses, galactic locksmith, greatest hits, The Narrows, blinds, photos, bracelets, DVDs, gala, naps, rice cake, storage, SPEECH & What Archive?, washing dishes, World Food Books, taking notes, studios, meetings, interviews, internet, cats, thesis, Clouds, catalogues, newsletters, renovations.

Y3K Gallery

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