OverLogo borrows the now defunct logos of two companies once publically owned, now privatised, and transforms them into massive pixelated graphics. Weis and van Schaik have co-opted an urban feature, the branding of ownership through advertising, and thrown a spanner in the works. In this case, they have repossessed the redundant logos of Telecom and the old Met Tram, anachronistically breathing life back into them – an act of transgression and antagonism to those companies who have now reinvented themselves.
OverLogo is built nostalgia: a giant abacus of 7,000 brightly coloured spheres which coalesced in to a 1980's tram ticket. Yearning for a time when trams were patrolled by conductors who carried leather purses and ticket punchers, OverLogo attempted to 'validate' the city by putting a dark and grimy laneway on the map. This was achieved in spectacular fashion in 2007 when Corporation Lane, made popular by OverLogo, was renamed AC/DC Lane in honour the Australian band. While framing the laneway in the realm of high art, OverLogo was in turn designed to be framed by the ravages of the city, becoming vandalised by night club goers and battered by garbage trucks it became tattered at its edges, just like the small yellow paper ticket it mockingly emulated.
How was the space first identified and who was contacted to secure it?
The creators spent many hours wandering the lanes of Melbourne discussing the kinds of narratives (figurative, hyper-symbolic and otherwise) that would best be placed in a laneway. We fixed on the Corporation Lane location (now AC/DC Lane) because it was a space we walked down regularly to visit clubs; we knew how strongly contrasting the social and functional programs of the lane were and knew it could carry a big sign as a result. We simply contacted the landlord of the 108 Flinders Street to secure permission to erect the sculpture to the rear of their building.
What was required to secure the space?
We were lucky in that the building owners had a development proposal under consideration for 108 Flinders Street at the time and the building was slated for demolition. Consequently the landlord was not fussed about having a 12 metre sculpture strapped to the back of the building temporarily. 6 years later the building is still there!
What needed to be provided by you as hirer or user of the space?
We leased the wall for a one year period for one dollar plus legal costs for drawing up the contract, which came to a total of $901.00
What were the costs?
The total cost for OverLogo was $40,000.00, which was associated with the materials, fabrication, installation, insurance and legal costs. Artist and design fees were waived. The Melbourne City Council provided $30,000.00. Lou Weis and Jan van Schaik provided funds of $5,000.00 each.
What were the resources available to you?
The Melbourne City Council provided the grant and a great deal of project management support. Auspicious Arts provided all of the production management support.
Who helped you to fit it out?
Paul Dodd, of Shush Industries was responsible for all the steelwork and installation.
Sia Smith and three RMIT Architecture students Farzin Lotfi-Jam, Jerome Frumar and Gosia Olszewski were engaged to assist in the threading of the spheres.
Anil Hira of Van Der Meer Consulting provided engineering services.
What were/are the obstacles?
The size of the artwork was challenging. It pushed the costs up, created wind-loading and other structural challenges.
The structure was temporary, and the MCC required that the site be returned to its original condition after its tenure was up, which is never entirely possible. Also, it was not entirely clear what to do with the sculpture once demounted. Ultimately the steel was re-used and the plastic sphere recycled.
The funding provided by the MCC was not entirely sufficient for the ambition of the project, so the artists elected to partially self-fund the project.
The project budget did not allow for a detailed site survey during the design stages. The height of the wall was thus measured by counting bricks, not an entirely accurate process, which led to some last minute surprises and adjustments during installation.
What were/are the risks?
There were the usual public liability and professional indemnity risks, which were covered by the MCC and the engineers respectively. MCC absorbed the cost of public liability insurance, while the professional indemnity costs had to be provided for by the project budget.
There was also a risk that the slightly contentious political content of the work would attract corporate criticism, however this did not eventuate.