Started: 2015


Thanks to: Third Chair contributors Clare Cooper, Bek Conroy, David Eastwood, David Greenhalgh, Ele Jansen, Ian Milliss, and everyone who visited and donated materials to Make or Break Studio

labour // value // studio // collaboration // build // repurpose // time // space // library // conversation


Image: Make or Break Studio, 2015, documentation at Firstdraft, NSW, photo by Document Photography.
MAKE OR BREAK STUDIO is an open examination of art-making as a kind of performance, and an opportunity to challenge the value of art objects and artist labour. It is a repurposing of valuable inner city real estate (a gallery) as a space for experimenting, thinking and doing (a studio). It acknowledges and makes visible the flows of influence, ideas and materials between artists, audiences and other stakeholders.

Starting on opening night and continuing for the duration of the exhibition, two artists engage in a daily art-making relay, continuing or destroying the work that the other had made during their previous session, as if it were their own. With no art supplies to work with and only a chair, makeshift workbench, and a basic toolkit at hand, the artists rely entirely on the generosity of audiences to donate materials throughout the exhibition period.

These materials could be anything: a piece of wood, metal, plastic or paper; a hand-me-down, rubbish or a cup of coffee; an idea, a conversation or an expert’s advice. A critical reader accompanies the work, and a small library, tea station and sitting area is set up to invite audiences to spend time with the artists as they work. The project invites genuine curiosity about process and demonstrates how artists working alone can – and do – influence one another.

The first iteration of Make or Break Studio was presented at Firstdraft, Sydney in 2015, and was preceded by a series of conversations with artists, thinkers and researchers called The Third Chair. The second iteration was presented at Bus Projects, Melbourne in 2016. The accompanying book Make or Break was published in 2016. A formal valuation of Make or Break Studio forms the basis of Valuation.

A critical reader accompanied the work, and a small library and sitting area was set up to invite audiences to spend time with the artists as they worked.

This project was supported by a grant from NAVA.

Media and publications:
Order Make or Break book
Art Guide Australia: Artists at Work