Brown Council is the collaborative practice of Sydney-based artists Frances Barrett, Kate Blackmore, Kelly Doley and Diana Smith, who have worked together since 2007. Spanning gallery and stage, and blurring distinctions between high and popular culture, the collective’s practice draws on the legacies of both the visual and performing arts, including influences as diverse as street theatre, amateur magic, vaudeville, stand-up comedy and the sideshow. Their work is developed from processes of discussion and exchange, the artists meeting regularly to explore ideas and formulate provocations designed to inspire new work.
The One Hour Laugh (2009) was included in the first presentation of MCA Collection: Volume One and has remained an audience favourite since the Museum reopened. Their work was featured in Primavera 2011 – the MCA’s annual exhibition of emerging artists aged under thirty-five. For this off-site exhibition (the galleries were closed for renovation), Brown Council presented two new works that used simple DIY costumes to incisively and humorously contemplate issues around authenticity. The artists, inspired by Bauhaus theatre and Cabaret Voltaire, combined tropes from amateur magic shows and performance art history to create simple acts of visual trickery. Two of their works were also selected as part of Tell Me Tell Me: Australian and Korean Art 1976-2011 in the same year.
Brown Council’s recent projects include: Video, Sullivan and Strumpf, Sydney, 2014; Trace: Performance and its Documents, Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane, 2014; Going Down, International Studio & Curatorial Program, New York, 2013; You’re History, Performance Space, Sydney, 2013; Backflip, Margaret Laurence Gallery, Melbourne, 2013; Contemporary Australia: Women, Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane, 2012; This Is Performance, Artspace, Sydney, 2012.