(with Tony Birch) Camp Pell Lecture, 2010

An instruction-based, continuous performance: five lectures being read simultaneously, continuously and unsynchronised for the duration of the exhibition by a roster of participants in the exhibition; five video projections.

Exh: Camp Pell Lecture, 29 January — 27 February 2010, Artspace, Sydney.


Camp Pell Lecture is the result of a two-year collaboration with the writer and historian Tony Birch. Originating in a shared interest in the disappeared Camp Pell — a huge military camp and later a temporary public housing estate, which once occupied the expanses of Melbourne's Royal Park — the collaboration evolved into a performance-based work. Camp Pell Lecture is the reading of five lectures simultaneously, continuously and unsynchronised by a roster of participants for the duration of the exhibition. Parts of the lectures are read aloud, other parts in silence, so that these five lectures alternately produce silence and overlapping texts of varying density and intelligibility. Each lecture takes place in front of a projection, sequences of archival photographs occasionally punctuated by contemporary video footage of Royal Park.

The lectures and the images draw on the extraordinary and divergent histories of the site: the point of departure of Burke and Wills' expedition in 1860; the 'Native Encampment', an ethnographic display at the early Melbourne Zoo; Camp Pell, one of the largest military camps in the Pacific War, which housed thousands of American and British troops in Nissan huts; and the emergency public housing complex which subsequently occupied these huts, becoming Melbourne's most infamous postwar 'slum', dismantled just a few months before Melbourne hosted the 1956 Olympics. Camp Pell Lecture uses Royal Park and the narratives that intersect there as a means to understand different regimes of order and containment, and to engage the relations between events and their traces.



Credits for Camp Pell Lecture.
Tony Birch and Tom Nicholson would like to gratefully acknowledge: the whole team at Artspace for their generous support for this project, and in particular Blair French and Reuben Keehan for their curatorial work, Tracy Burgess and Kylie Johnson for their many contributions to the realization of the work, especially helping to organize participants for the project, and Paul Greedy and Cam Foster for the fantastic work installing the show; Lucas Ihlein for his support with the recruitment work and the production of a multiple for the project; the Royal Children’s Hospital for access to their rooftop for filming.

We thank Auntie Joy Murphy-Wandin for her generous engagement with our work and for her support for this project. We thank the State Library of Victoria, the Australian War Memorial and the Mitchell Library for permission to reproduce photographs from their Pictures Collection in this project, and the Public Records Office of Victoria for assisting with the research.

Tom Nicholson would like acknowledge the importance of his time as a State Library of Victoria Creative Fellows in 2007 in the development of Camp Pell Lecture, with thanks in particular to Dianne Reilly, Shane Carmody, Des Cowley, and Madeleine Say. He would like to thank: Anna Schwartz Gallery, and specifically Anna Schwartz and Ruth Bain for their constant work and energy; his colleagues at the Faculty of Art & Design for their collegiality and support, in particular to the IT Department, Kit Wise, Kathie Barwick and Dr Anne Marsh; Sylvia Geddes and Julian Land; Shelley Marshall; Penny Collings; Christian Capurro; his immediate family, in particular his parents Mary and Peter, three children, Luci, Jean and Joseph, and his partner Clare Land for her great support and intellectual engagement with this work.

Above all, many thanks are due to the volunteers who participate in this project as readers. Their generous engagement in the project make the work possible and it has been a great privilege to meet, work and talk with this group of people, which included: Shane Addison, Adam Adelpour, Lisa Andrew, Stuart Bailey, Derek Baines, Georgia Banks, Fran Barrett, Sophie Biraud, Sarah Bishop, Sally Blakeney, Diego Bonetto, Kate Brown, Sean Byrne, Barbara Campbell, Annalisa Capurro, Annele Capurro, Mac Collings, Mary Collings, Penny Collings, Janelle Cugley, Jessie Czaban, Bec Dean, Kelly Doley, Emma Dortins, Fiona Edmeades, Sian Edwards, Estelle Ehmann, Julia Featherstone, Heather Formaini, Sylvia Geddes, Michelle Genders, Loughlin Gleeson, Sarah Goffman, Kahryn Gray, Genevieve Grieves, Heather, Katie Hepworth, Lily Hibberd, Lucas Ihlein, Brad Johnson, Nina Juhl, Deborah Kelly, Lisa Kelly, Julian Land, Eugenie Lee, Ruark Lewis, Justine Lloyd, Heidi Lupprian, John McBride, Emma Mitchell, Nic Moodie, Eva Mueller, Mary Nicholson, Bernice Ong, Bianca Perich, Elise Petith, Jude Potter, Meilin Potter, Norm Potter, Dylan Quirk, Stephanie Quirk, Marilyn Ramage, Marlaina Read, Linda Renz, Kate Ryan, Shane Short, Kenny Son, Rohan Smyth, Will Stites, Jaynie Symon, Tina, Jessica Tse, Leigh Tuckman, Libby Tulip, Monique Upton, Adam Varnhed, Deborah Vaughan, Verena, Matt Yeldham.


Nicola Harvey's review of Camp Pell Lecture in Frieze.
A multiple, Camp Pell Lecture, was produced on the occasion of the exhibition, printed with Lucas Ihlein and published by Big Fag Press.

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