Amy Spiers is a Melbourne-based artist and writer who is interested in participatory, socially-engaged and public art.
In her art practice she employs a cross-disciplinary approach that includes photography, video, installation, text and public intervention for both site-specific and gallery contexts.
Amy has presented numerous art projects in festivals and galleries across Australia, including Next Wave (Melbourne), Tiny Stadiums (Sydney), This Is Not Art (Newcastle), Performance Space (Sydney), The Substation (Melbourne), Platform (Melbourne) Salamanca Art Centre (Hobart) and SASA Gallery (Adelaide). She presented work in Yogyakarta, Indonesia as part of The South Project Gathering in 2009. In 2012, Amy undertook an internship with the public art commissioning agency Situations in Bristol, UK and a residency at the Zentrum für Kunst und Urbanistik in Berlin, Germany.
Amy completed a Master of Fine Art at the Victorian College of Art in 2011. During her studies she explored strategies for inviting viewer participation in her art and completed a thesis entitled The limits of sociability: An exploration of the possibilities and pitfalls of participatory art.
Amy’s MFA thesis explored her own evolving understanding of community and social engagement through a critical reflection of a number of her own, and others, participatory artworks. She described how theorists Rosalyn Deutsche, Miwon Kwon and Claire Bishop, have looked to theories of radical and plural democracy, particularly Chantal Mouffe and Ernesto Laclau’s concept of antagonism, to reveal the political shortcomings of much socially-engaged art. In her thesis, she explains how these theoretical underpinnings have impacted her art practice and advocates for a more destabilizing approach to socially-engaged and participatory art practices.
Rather than affirming and celebrating meetings, as so much relational and socially-engaged art does, Amy’s work seeks to thematise the limits of sociability. As such, failed moments of connection are as integral to her works as are their instants of surprising engagement.
Amy is currently a PhD candidate at Centre for Cultural Partnerships, Victorian College of the Arts.
Amy collaborates frequently with others on projects. Since 2012, Amy has worked with Catherine Ryan to create artworks that provoke questions about the present social order—particularly about the gaps and silences in public discourse, the things that are not or cannot be acknowledged. Together they are interested in exploring aesthetics and strategies that are disruptive and estranging. They recently presented Nothing To See Here (Removal of Sydney Harbour Bridge) at the Underbelly Arts Festival on Cockatoo Island in Sydney. From 2007 to 2010 Amy worked with writer and anthropologist Victoria Stead as Agents of Proximity, which ran a localised travel service in Brunswick for the 2008 Next Wave Festival and presented Destiny Exchange/Pertukaran Nasib in Yogyakarta, Indonesia as part of The South Project Gathering in 2009.
arts writing and curating
As a curator and producer, Amy has presented Touchy Feely - Is socially engaged and relational art too sentimental? at Inflight ARI, Hobart in 2012 and Nothing Happening at Kings ARI, Melbourne in 2013.
amyspiers (at) gmail.com