Amy Spiers b. 1982, Sydney, Australia. Lives and works in Melbourne.
Amy Spiers is a Melbourne-based artist, writer and researcher. Spiers makes art both collaboratively with Catherine Ryan, and as a solo artist. Her socially-engaged, critical art practice focuses on the creation of live performances, participatory situations and multi-artform installations for both site-specific and gallery contexts. Through her work she aims to prompt questions and debate about the present social order — particularly about the gaps and silences in public discourse where difficult histories and social issues are not confronted. Spiers has presented numerous art projects across Australia and internationally, most recently at Monash University Museum of Art (Melbourne), the Museum für Neue Kunst (Freiburg), MONA FOMA festival (Hobart) and the 2015 Vienna Biennale.
As an arts writer, Spiers has published work widely in art journals, exhibition catalogues, magazines and blogs, including for the Museum of Contemporary Art, Auckland Art Gallery, Journal of Arts and Communities, Open Engagement, Das Superpaper, un magazine and Artlink. Spiers is currently studying a PhD at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Her research investigates socially-engaged art’s ability to agitate and provoke debate about present society. She explores how artworks can provide occasions and platforms for fomenting critique and dissensus around challenging social questions.
Amy often collaborates with others on projects. Since 2012, she has worked with writer and artist Catherine Ryan. The work they make together deals with questions of what is visible, and invisible, in public space. The duo are interested in how certain political events and ruptures are denied, silenced and excluded.
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.
Amy completed a Master of Fine Art at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2011. During her studies she explored strategies for engaging participation in contemporary art and completed a thesis entitled The limits of sociability: An exploration of the possibilities and pitfalls of participatory art.
Amy’s MFA thesis discussed her evolving understanding of participatory practice through a critical reflection of a number of her own, and others, 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.
Following her Masters research Amy has espoused a more destabilising approach to socially-engaged and participatory art and explored how these theoretical underpinnings have impacted her art practice.
Amy is currently a PhD candidate at the Victorian College of the Arts.
“Interview with Amy Spiers and Catherine Ryan“, interview with Anusha Kenny, un Magazine 10.2, October 2016.
“Performative Security: An Interview with Amy Spiers and Catherine Ryan“, interview with Matthew O’Shannessy, Berfrois, 12 May 2016.
“I wanna be a doctor”, Amy Spiers interviewed by Jacinta Parsons for Detour on RRR. Broadcast on 4 December, 2013. Recorded in Melbourne.
“Episode 418: Amy Spiers-Open Engagement 2013”, Amy Spiers interviewed by Caroline Picard for Bad at Sports. Posted 2 September, 2013. Recorded in Portland, OR in May 2013 during Open Engagement 2013.