pen Office is a series of outdoor art installations and an evolving investigation into what kinds of behaviours are possible within public space. The project received support from Next Wave’s Kickstart program for emerging artists, and has developed into a new work, En Plein Air, appearing this May as part of Melbourne’s Next Wave Festival.

Its starting point was a plan to produce portable, temporary workspaces for people who have limited access to studio/office/workspace within the inner city, posing questions about who has access to productive space within the context of rising real estate costs and urban gentrification. The project is also an experiment in making do with less (less energy, less things), and even in eliminating that part of our workplace responsible for the bulk of its resource consumption - the building itself.

Finally, the project also explores what possibilities might emerge from a more open and inclusive working environment - one in which participants make use of free public space, are able to move in response to changing circumstances or inclinations, and are open to the interventions, interference and contributions of the community around them.

The first public outcome of this project, Open Office for an Editorial Committee, was recently presented at This is Not Art 2007.

If you have an event or project in the works that could benefit from a collaboration with the Open Office please contact us.

Open Office for an Editorial Committee


September 27 – 30, 2007
Civic Park
Newcastle, NSW

pen Office for an Editorial Committee was conceived of in collaboration with the National Young Writers’ Festival, who in early 2007 invited us to produce a nomadic, open-air magazine office operating for 3 days as part of This is Not Art. Staffed by a team of capable young writers, editors and designers from Voiceworks magazine, the office set up shop in a cosy corner of Newcastle’s Civic Park each afternoon of the festival, inviting the public to actively participate in producing and publishing the NYWF 07 anthology. On the final day, the office was converted into its own unique stall at the Zine and Independent Press Fair, where it distributed copies of the finished anthology.

Part performance, part collaborative magazine publication and part public sculpture, our living installation attracted a range of curious visitors interested in taking part in (or just observing) various aspects of the publication process, from producing their own submissions at purpose-built typewriter and cut-and-paste stations, to selecting content and organising layout at the picnic/conference table.

udiences were also drawn into engaging with the space by the interactive nature of the office itself, consisting of a collection of hybrid objects clustered together in the dappled sunlight, shifting and changing configuration as new participants joined in, sprinklers were turned on, winds picked up, or production of the zine progressed to a new stage. These ambiguous, DIY objects were hand-made by hijacking familiar everyday artefacts (BBQs, trolleys, suitcases, picnic tables etc.) and transforming them into (mostly) functional travelling workspaces that enable a different way of using the city and its shared public spaces.

Open Office for an Editorial Committee was a collaboration between NYWF, Tessa Rapaport & Karl Logge (Makeshift), Voiceworks and Urchin. This project has been assisted by Next Wave and the Australian Government through the Australia Council.

Read about Open Office in The Program

Marc and Ryan from Voiceworks at work on the designer's desk

Vanessa Berry & friend with balloons peruse the office after making their submission

Young writers preparing a submission at the suitcase workstations

Scott-Patrick Mitchell from Perth making a zine of his own in one sitting

Poet Tom Guerney from Brisbane typing out a submission

Trolley table having been wheeled away to a quiet park bench

The Voiceworks editorial committee organising layout at the conference/picnic table

The finished product, Nanoworks, being displayed in the 'super-table' at the Zine and Independent Press Fair

Another satisfied customer connecting with the Voiceworks team