With the size of a continent but a population of a small European country and a history that only gained international status in the sixties, it is not surprising that the Australian art scene is predominately horizontal. It lacks the vertical structure of "art superstars" dominant in Europe and the US. The countless artist-run spaces in Australia are not an alternative to a repressive hierarchy, but more often present the only way for artists to articulate themselves to a broader audience.Melbourne alone features 22 well-published, permanent artist-run initiatives, which provide a much needed service, particularly by offering a more analytical discourse. Among the many models, of which the studio and gallery hybrid are the most successful, the voice of the individual artist is often overlooked. Alf Löhr (based in London) and Ann Wertheim from Melbourne therefore concentrated their research on the artists' immediate needs and how they imagine their ideal space of production and presentation. More than once questions regarding sustainability were raised. In spite of great enthusiasm, intellectual ambition and increased municipal support for events, no artist seems to be able to support him-/herself on the basis of this art scene. Instead artists depend on traditional galleries, grants or, in most cases, on their own resources acquired through regular jobs.

Alf Löhr