The 2009 Format Festival started on Friday March 1st, with an exhibit from our long time collaborators ST5K (later to morph into Street Dreams) and James Dodd. James was a lovely guy and built a projector rack for us out of a milk crate. Here’s a picture of his opening night work, in our back gallery.
Note the absence of a security guard. No one had told us we needed one, so we simply didn’t have one, despite operating on Hindley Street with $4 beers. Within this picture you can see Simon Loffler, who ran the street art stuff, did the design and layout for the program, and was one of the founding members of the Format Collective Inc, when we incorporated a few months later. You can also see, to the left of centre in the khaki shirt, Matt Walker, who designed Format’s logo, behind the bar is Cassie Flanagan who ran that year’s Academy of DIY and worked on the initial programming, and on the lower right is Sophie Green, who had been involved in the original zine fairs, the Academy of DIY and would later marry Joel Catchlove.
Given the venue’s wildly non-compliant status, things actually ran pretty smoothly. I think this was because we were deeply naive as to what could go wrong. Every day I would turn up, clean out the toilets, take out the bins and feel like I was having the time of my life. Here’s a picture of me enthusiastically taking out the bins.
In the background, you can see Format Collective foundational member Sam Rogers. I think his name was on the original lease for Format’s place on Peel Street (mine wasn’t). He was running all the publicity that year. Next to him is Caitlin ‘Bugle Face’ Tyler, who has the single loudest voice of any human I have ever met. She was doing a show about clowns in the back gallery. It was the first Format event to ever sell out.
That year we had four spaces: the front and back galleries, a ‘resource room’ for zine publishers and a courtyard, named after Jillian McKeague. The ‘resource room’ contained a photocopier, which provoked an extensive debate over a sign related to the photocopying of body parts. I forget how this argument started, but I think I ended it by asking people to stop copying their body parts as it left an oily residue on the glass, which I found deeply unnerving.
The McKeague Courtyard hosted Chloe Langford’s first exhibit with Format (the next year she ran the visual art stream), and sections of the Academy of DIY. Here you can see Format co-founder Joel Catchlove (in the baseball cap) with zinester Sophie Green. I have a sneaking suspicion the pair on the far left is Stephanie Lyall, who would end up as one of the directorial team the following year, and Tannon Kew. Tannon would later gain fame for building the steps at The Reading Room and rewiring Electra House prior to its use by Tuxedo Cat.
That year’s zine fair was particularly large, hosting visitors from interstate and overseas, including Dave Roche from the US, and Lisa Dempster. Lisa would run the literature stream of Format in 2010, before taking over the Emerging Writers Festival. She now runs the Melbourne Writers Festival. Here’s a picture of her and Dave:
Most of the literature stuff was run on the final weekend. Here’s one of the panels. Note Chloe Langford, sitting next to Connor O’Brien. Connor now runs the Digital Writers Festival. You can also see Luke Sinclair, founder of Melbourne’s Sticky, front and centre here.
The zine fair was held in the back room. As we discovered about half way through the festival, this room would occasionally fill itself with the stench of raw sewerage. We couldn’t find the source, and I spent most of the morning the zine fair worrying about it. Fortunately, there were a bunch of people spray painting in there and the air was so thick with aerosol you couldn’t smell anything else.