‘Sham artist refuses to push boundaries

Sunanda Creagh has written an article about little ole me, here.

If you get the print copy of the paper, there’s a picture of Luciana and Wolfie and me rollerskating. Perhaps some clever bored person who steals time from their office job to read this will make themselves look busy scanning in the article and email it to me. Hint hint. Then I can post it up here and send you a thousand thanks. [NB! This has been done! Thanks to Lisa from North Petersham, and also to Sarah from the Marrickville Council.]

Oh, and if you’d like to compare stories…MY account of Sunanda’s visit to the ‘sham is here.

Anyways, just in case the Herald website goes belly-up some time in the future, I’ll include a transcript of the article below. Hooroo.

‘Sham artist refuses to push boundaries
By Sunanda Creagh
April 19, 2006

IF YOU were in Double Bay on Sunday, you may have seen a young man wearing an airline-style eyemask at an outdoor cafe. It was the artist Lucas Ihlein, pretending he was in Petersham.

The PhD student is part way through an art project called Bilateral Petersham, which requires him to stay within the boundaries of the inner-west suburb for two months. An unforeseen but important family commitment led to the emergency trip to Double Bay, but the blindfold protected the project’s integrity – in the past fortnight he hasn’t laid eyes on anyone or anything outside of what he has come to refer to as “the ‘Sham”.

Apart from the Double Bay blip, Ihlein has stayed within the council-defined borders of Petersham, even honouring the Petersham/Lewisham border, part of which runs down the middle of a netball court. “We have most things here,” he says happily, waving an arm towards New Canterbury Road. “But things like underpants and socks – you know how you would normally go to Kmart or something? There’s really nowhere round here apart from the op shops. I’ll have to look into that.”

Ihlein’s blog (www.thesham. info) records in fascinating detail his daily experiences: visiting the suburb’s defunct rollerskating rink; his first drop-in to the local bowling club; walking his neighbour’s dog, Wolfie.

“In April-May last year, I was artist-in-residence in Kellerberrin, a tiny town in the West Australian wheatbelt,” he writes. “For the two months I was there, I kept a blog each morning, about who I met, what we talked about – a document of mutual curiosity between a city dweller and his rural hosts. My question on returning to Sydney was: ‘How would this exact same process work in my own neighbourhood’?”

Quite well, apparently. Ihlein is reluctant to admit it, but while he wanders the streets with Wolfie – meeting people and learning local stories – his project is starting to look suspiciously like community building.

“Sometimes it takes somebody to take a little bit of time out of their life and look at what’s going on for everyone to realise what they value around them. Maybe that’s a role that an artist is able to take on,” he says.

A week before his council-funded project began, Ihlein attended a neighbourhood meeting where residents discussed the Petersham they would like to see. “One of the things that almost everybody talked about was the word ‘community’,” he says. His aim is to create a work that investigates and responds to the idea of community, without becoming a clunky work of public art.

“But public art can be actually doing stuff rather than just whacking a sculpture somewhere. In a way, I feel like my contribution is about creating knowledge through doing something, rather than just theorising about it,” he says.

Ihlein says the project is easier than he thought it would be, but he gets the odd yearning for life outside the ‘Sham.

“The other day my friend Mick sent me a message saying, ‘Would I be a bastard if I said this was a perfect day for the beach?’ “

5 thoughts on “‘Sham artist refuses to push boundaries

  1. j-lem

    G’day, saw the herald article online and went straight to your blog. Thought you might be interested in knowing that there is a picture of you and your mate on rollerskates here:


    (Only works if you copy the address and paste in a new window – odd but true)

    Super idea by the way – reminds me of some of the things Danny Wallace has done. I’ve just read one of his books which might interest you: ‘Join Me’. He seems to do things just to see what happens.. and I must admit I’m becoming a bit of a fan.

    have a super day Lucas!


  2. karizy

    who are you and why are stealing our dope lingo?
    we’ve been living your little experiment for years now.
    it’s old and unoriginal.
    we think it’s time you step off.

  3. shortleftleg Post author

    Hey SHAM MASSIVE! Tell me more! I am curious…Certainly I pose no threat to your territory…
    I’m just an artist who’s been in Petersham for about two years, not very long I know…but I wanted to give some attention to the neighborhood I live in.
    I do kinda writing and web projects, as well as working with the groups SquatSpace and NUCA.
    It’d be good to feature you guys here too, if you’d be into it. I’d heard about something called the SHAM MASSIVE but didn’t know how to reach you…


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