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March 19, 2010

What exactly do you do AAU? (oooh, that rhymes!)

Somebody recently asked me to succinctly describe what this thing that we do is?
This was what I said:

Primarily, it does whatever it creatively can …  our motto is to aspire to inspire!

In essence, the collective becomes multi-faceted – it is a podium and an audience, a gallery, a media service, an agency etc.  Kath runs around the web scoping opportunities and forging links with other orgs and finding like-minded friends…  I try to drive traffic…  also, I try to find events to have stalls at, sell merch, write blogs and find promotional opportunities in heaps of places.

This year we have already gathered tons of momentum, I have already done one stall at a Brisbane (that’s where I live, so I guess that’s where we are based) punk gig, had a press ad in a local net culture mag and been offered a regular column in another … have a local Gallery stall soon during our regional art festival.

Eventually, I hope to do more, but as I am just a chick organiser with a family budget and nothing more (not to mention time line), I am satisfied with the pace we are traveling and am very pleased that people support the concept and what I hope to do…

Which is at it’s most fecund … bringing a spotlight onto a collective of people who use their creative talent and their own personal audiences to promote awareness of socially challenging topics, whether they be visual, aural or written.  This may seem a small thing, but it works wonders for enthusiasm and healing (creative healing of the individual is always a priority)… oh and education based on personal interaction with other artists in a global context.

To be diverse, we are not tied to one topic but rather represent the artists needs and their ideas about what concerns them in their part of the world …  and gather them together… we can also match (as you noted) artists to causes they care about when opportunities arrive.

Activist organisations and organisers can approach us with their ads for distribution to our network… on facebook alone we are approaching 2000 people on the profile and we also have a group and a fan page, we have twitter and all that too… we have the ning site for creatives who want to join more formally by having their own aau profile etc.  We have 5 redbubble galleries full of conscientious artworks and we share the really great ones around, also giving artists a benchmark to improve their message clarity in their art etc. and linking everything back to the artists’ sales page so they may hopefully make some money for encouragement, but under art action union branding.

So… taking a deep breath…

With every new organisation or relationship we forge, we are growing – and word of mouth is strong… if we can create the biggest pool of activist artists ever (decentralised) imagine the capacity for visual, aural and written action if we can somehow coordinate… or the potential to get really awesome interactions with the like-minded activists and creatives…  it’s a big experiment really – and I can’t stop being obsessed with it…

All I can say is that we are moving and want to shake… we are going and growing and until it stops, neither will I…

So, we are not so much an organisation as a collective – administered by me, only cause I came up with the idea a while ago and decided to test it 🙂

We don’t do summits like Copenhagen though, but are very proud to have people like Anna who is supporting us in her heart and we brag that we are attached to important campaigners and groups… We did get an invitation to the “Freedom to Create Awards” last year, but alas, a trip to London to see Bianca Jagger was not in budget 😛

Is that succinct?


QPUNX magazine is an initiative run by the scene for the scene and it has a sturdy readership so far.  I’m not quite sure why, but they have been really very supportive of our little ‘leftist’ type venture… which of course has me screaming cries of ANARCHY… but then that could just be the beats and drones of punk!

QPUNX invited us to one of their numerous fund-raising shows at the Jubilee Hotel in Fortitude Valley one rainy Saturday late last month … and… well… Kath turned up with her punk rock friend Punxie for a day of I had no idea what… I had art stuff… rained out… not so good to scream over the top of the music all the time when discussing this concept… and the roller derby girls had the interior hot pretty and I felt that I would just dag the place out… but… with my six foot two punk rock friend Punxie (of Punxie and the Poison Pens) I mingled and talked… which is something I do a lot of… about the AAU and about art and about whatever got attention… I had my teal coloured butterfly (there are a lot of butterfly’s around the punk rock art of time) logo t-shirt on like the true Indy-car promo chick without the boobs and Lycra.  I gave out art with the website address to a number of people and did some word of mouth… it was a really fun afternoon and cool to connect with a lively and rich bunch of go-harders.  So I didn’t get my head punched in… in fact, some people seemed to actually like talking to me… so I guess they aren’t such an exclusive group…

We are fortunate to have a regular column on a monthly basis where there will be ranting and art venting…  this month will have two feature artists from our collective so it rolls on!

Below is our article from Issue 3…  Issue 4 is out soonish … thanks Josh!

Being an Individual is a Paradox

I’m thinkin’ about words.  Not specifically ‘the’ words but the way certain ones are used and adapted for certain definitive socio-tribal aural recognition.

In that, collectives of groups form based on things such as clothes and music – a very broad definition of course – add into the mix ‘lingo’, ‘handshakes’, ‘gestures’ and ‘struts’.  People of the same mind may give each other fleeting attention or a ‘sign’ in the street or club that the secret society is ever vigilant of its members in public.

This forms shades of cultures within subcultures, stereo-types within pigeon holes and a plethora of characterisations for shows such as The Simpsons to streamline and make the world simpler for ‘people less inclined to think deeply’ to understand the subtle, yet marked, differences between us.  This is when we all relatively live and look the same; we’re not even going to contemplate the psychological social barriers collectively confronted when we seek multi-cultural and spiritual diversity, as one eclectic idea differs from another they all somehow become the same when we consider the market.

A market that is cashed up and able to have flogged to them, through marketing and brainwashing, products that are mass-produced for a mass-produced and groomed consuming market of people made up of subtle differences.  After all the retail stores can only do so much to stay afloat and that generally means getting as many people through the doors as possible to buy a line of the same product/s.  At the same time though, it seems important for us all to be safe in the knowledge that there isn’t anyone like ourselves and we are all really individuals.  Which of course we are, it’s just that we all buy the same stuff in streamlined ways.  We all seek to identify with something visual and aural that somehow defines our inner thoughts and values, to feel safe in the knowledge that there actually are other people like us.  Paradox!

We all strive to be some sort of stereo-type (be it obvious or associative), even when we are doing what the hell we want.  And I guess, even when we are trying to ignore stereo-typing we become stereo-typed by the stereo-typical because one strives not to stereo-type.  Check that sentence out for an idiosyncratic phrase… ha!

A market that is only capable of needing beyond the needs of needing (already making a large group similar).  As such, a market that needs to be made up of individuals, doing the same thing but remaining individual whilst looking to associate with people similar.  Hence the success of music festival culture in the fiscal sense.  A single event with musical shades of sideshow attractions that appeal to a ‘set’ of ‘spenders’ … and therefore ‘sell-out’ the show.

We like to spend time with people like us because we like to do things that we like with our time and we can’t be with someone when they are doing what they like and not what we like, some of course take this to a greater extreme than others.

Seemingly at times, the more different we become the more ‘the marketeers’ are able to tailor our minds to actually behaving the same.  Let’s take a mild example:  the hippies began their alternative lifestyles in order to seek to create social, spiritual and environmental change, generally operating from high ethical moral standards. A way long time back now, this gave way to hippie fashions becoming ‘mainstream’ and ‘mass-produced’.  One idea for this could be that a freedom of expression and a bending of visual status-quos became attractive to those not infected with these notions of social change.  But also, to be visually identifiable as someone associated to higher moral thinking whether a conviction to the ‘cause’ exists or not.  It becomes about the look, not the action enhanced by the look.

Remember when faded jeans were cool because it meant you proudly went without expensive materials to prove you were suffering for your art?  Or that you were humble or consumerism conscious or that you just like wearing old worn in garments?  Then artificially faded denims go on mass sales in the shops … it’s that kind of thing that makes me bawk!  Not exactly sure exactly why, hmmm.

Then fashion and social ideal splinters because there are reactions to this trend.  And mixes form and it becomes a myriad and a fractal of personality all looking to find like-minded personalities using sight and sound.  And the cycle repeats over and over again.

So then, language also mutates.  Some might say that it is generational, but I aint that old and bugger me if I can understand some of the ‘lingo’ some not so younger people use amongst themselves.  It’s a coded language.  It might be as mild as using ‘fuck’ every second word, or it might be a total mutation of the sentence structure, spelling and pronunciation the entire phrases that could be used repetitively just to get it out there that these guys and gals are ‘different’ to the boring old English dictionary folk.  To create a new language is real fame man, albeit collective fame.

“Bugger Me”

geez – how many stereo-types of language can there be.

I guess… likewise activist artists use certain terms and styles repetitively to enforce their connectedness, or simply to quickly define the topic they are approaching.  Which in some ways, is a conscious use of this psychology to appeal to broad groups about the same issue, whether people are personally affected or whether they care, to inspire actual political and social action.

Action Artists in Residence are a collective of Activist Artists who are dedicated to the continuation, development, growth and improvement of the Art Action Union as a force for positive social change. If you would like to be an Art Action Union official artist in residence, you will be the first to be called on for special projects and opportunities for promotion that fit your situation and your beliefs. Send us an email ( and tell us you’re in! We will add your name to our database of talent.

Random visual of the issue:
CCTV Government T-Shirt

Artist: Ross Robinson (

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Meg permalink
    March 21, 2010 12:15 am

    Hey Kath, Amazing article in the latest QPunx Magazine. Beautifully written and very thought provoking. lol Jessie

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