Suzie Attiwill

There could be a story about lighting.

I remember visiting Anthony Street for the first time—in particular the lighting. Black theatre spots hung from scaffold rails and illuminated walls painted in shades of grey. The lighting gave the space a theatrical quality quite different to West Space’s previous space in Footscray composed of white cube gallery spaces inside a double storey, free standing, brick building.

West Space at Anthony Street didn’t have any outside as such—except during openings when the street filled with people smoking, drinking, and talking, which made the internally-focused spaces ever more dramatic. I felt uncertain about the lighting. The theatrical provoked a invitation to stage. Eventually, fluorescent batts replaced the theatre spots and white painted out any grey tones.

It is interesting to think about the effect and affect of lighting, and how lighting expressed and mediated the aspirations, potentialities and actualities of West Space. While I felt at the time that the theatrical quality of the new space at Anthony Street was not appropriate for a gallery space, I had not appreciated this as an expressed desire to shift from exhibition mode to project orientation, from white cube gallery to project space.

I come back to this encounter at Anthony Street and wonder about what could have happened in the shadows. The theatrical quality produced a chiaroscuro: an atmosphere and moodiness appropriate to experimental practice moving between clarity and obscurity that at times becomes ripe for staging as a temporal event.