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Susan Charlton

Author 
Scanlines email interview with Susan Charlton, 2011.

Susan Charlton is a curator, writer, publisher and entrepreneur. She currently works as Creative Producer at State Records, the NSW government archives. Susan curated the Attitude Film & Video Event and produced d>art 00 and hybrid<life>forms. She had a short, sharp burst of video making in the late 1980s.

Charlton says about her first experiences with video:

"It’s not so much video that I gravitate towards, but ideas. My creative working life has been driven by ideas that I am magnetised to or hypnotised by, which I annunciate and amplify through the processes of curating and programming. Over time these ideas and processes have played themselves out across different movements and moments. Wherever and whenever ideas and communities converge, video usually finds its place.

Video was a part of the feminist image-making movement I engaged in as a young woman that centred on the Media Resource Centre and Community Media Centre in late 1970s Adelaide. It was a useful educational tool when I was a Project Officer at the Inner City Education Centre in Sydney in the early 80s. Then it was absolutely central to my role as Women’s Filmworker, distributing and screening works made by Australian and international women film & video makers at the Sydney Filmmakers Co-op in the mid 80s. Video was of another 80s moment when I got swept along with other artists around me, piecing together new works from Hollywood movies and remixing the culture that surrounded us.

Video also made itself comfortable amongst the Super 8 of the late 80s, the new media arts of the 90s and the digital arts of the 21st century, epitomised by the evolution of the Sydney Super-8 Group into Sydney Intermedia Network and then d/Lux Media Arts — all of which I contributed to over time. I’ve also found a place for video amongst the State Archives in my current long-term position as Creative Producer at State Records NSW."

On curatorial projects that involved video she says:

"The first key curatorial project I worked on that involved video, was the Attitude Film & Video Event held in September 1989, where I was commissioned by the Sydney Super-8 Group to curate, finance & direct Attitude, a month-long installation & text-based event throughout Sydney. It was important in expressing the heightened video moment of the late 80s and was a pivotal point in the Super-8 Group evolving from its filmic origins to transform into other guises, including d/Lux Media Arts as it is today.

Two large-scale projects I was involved in, which included video, were the d>art 00 film, video, cd-rom, web & sound art event, which I project managed for d/Lux Media Arts in 2000, and hybrid<life>forms, which I produced for curators Linda Wallace & Josephine Grieve, featuring 19 Australian new media artists, shown at Netherlands Institute of Media Art in Amsterdam in 2001

My most recent, and perhaps most abstracted curatorial response to video, was when I included works about surveillance in the Sydney: Resort of Thieves exhibition I curated for State Records NSW in 2002. Resort of Thieves centred on the ‘Registry of Flash Men’, a journal held by the archives, documenting underworld life in 1840s Sydney, by the then Commissioner of Sydney Police. The video works AKA by Leon Cmielewski and Josephine Starrs and In the Event of Amnesia the City will Recall by Denis Beaubois were included in the narrative fabric of the exhibition installation to illuminate the ideas in the exhibition and to make the link between surveillance then and now."

Date 
b. 1953
Period of activity 
from 1980

Lives and works

Australia
Selected works
Selected events
Susan Charlton, Wonderlust, video still
Susan Charlton, Wonderlust, video still – from Wonderlust 
Susan Charlton, in Vistavision, video still
Susan Charlton, in Vistavision, video still – from in Vistavision