Culture Jammers: Dean Sewell
Culture jamming can take place in physical spaces or virtual realms: some activists amend billboards, others hijack websites. Photographer Dean Sewell captured the activities of a small group of culture jammers in Sydney between 2003 and 2007.
In 2003 two men painted NO WAR in big, friendly letters across the sail of the Opera House. Jailed, fined and applauded by Opera House staff, the two men — Will Saunders and Dave Burgess — were essentially 'culture jamming', a movement that interferes with public space the same way pirate radio jams public frequencies. Moran-winning photographer Dean Sewell got to know them over a number of years, at first only covering their actions. Culture Jammers, documents his transformation from observer to participant as he followed the Lonely Station's collective co-opting of commercial locations into art and politics.
From the guerrilla plastering of art on Sydney's new Louis Vuitton shop, to a hills hoist planted in Sydney Park for political purposes, Sewell's photos show you this urban art action from the lens of a man in the middle of it.
The Museum also put on an Art and Politics of Culture Jamming forum, presenting Dean Sewell, Lonely Stationer Neal Funnell, Opera House painter Dave Burgess and Peter Vogel from the culture jamming progenitor group BUGAUP.
The group of three to six members, calling themselves ‘The Lonely Station’ after a line from a Midnight Oil song, were perhaps the city's most audacious culture jammers. They scaled silos, highway billboards and buildings to rework images and draw public attention to social-justice and environmental issues, from the Iraq war to woodchipping and the plight of refugees.