Elastic Spaces

fauxPho is a creative space located in the heart of Footscray. It is facilitated by the fauxHappiness committee, which comprises fauxPho studio artists and local arts workers. Our aim is to provide a diverse and flexible platform for contemporary art practice and dialogue. We endeavour to nurture a robust and interactive space for arts workers and the broader community through our exhibition program and events. Read more >>

 a note on fauxPho 
 by Scott Brook 


When the original members of the fauxPho collective first arrived, the building’s faded signage told them the 1st floor warehouse had once been a photographer's studio. In the kitchen the textacolour drawings along the walls suggested two children, Vasco and Otto, had spent much of their childhood here. A CD beneath the carpet revealed the presence of an experimental spoken word group known simply as Arf Arf. Listening to this recording as they mixed polyfiller late into the night, the new tenants felt like ill-fated teenagers from a Sam Raimi movie; the voices on the recording seeming to conjure the harrowed spirits of Arts Collectives Past that had worked above the Footscray Mall.

The space famously takes its name from a Footscray business that never got off the ground. The pun itself is a borrowing from successful Sydney restaurants (eg. So Pho So Good, A Bridge to Pho) and is recycled here as a gesture to the process by which locals negotiate the increasing commercial opportunities that come with development. Fauxpho joyfully takes on the mantle of such Footscray entrepreneurialism and inhabits the spaces it leaves behind. The fauxPho group emerged from Bilo Artspace (2001); a shop-front gallery in Footscrays Little Saigon shopping centre. Just as Little Saigon carries the memory of that city renamed in 1975, the self-styled Bilo Bilo group carried the name of the former low-cost food franchise where Little Saigon now stands, and repeated it for good luck.

If it can be said that Footscray has nurtured forms of urbanity that are specific to Melbourne's west, then the Fauxpho collective seek to further develop this dialogue between practice and location. One example of this was the touring festival performance Karaoke Caravan (Big West Festival, 2001). This project took up the challenge of producing a participatory, multilingual event that was both a celebration and recontextualisation of this popular mode of home-based entertainment. For this the group constructed a loungeroom on the back of a 3 tonne tray-truck replete with a karaoke system with content in English and Vietnamese and coffee table refreshments. The project toured local schools and shopping districts, encouraging ground-level experiments in popular culture.

Since meeting in 2001 the group have been prolific, holding visual arts exhibitions, film screenings, piano recitals, graffiti restorations, Vietnamese poetry readings, and Western-style spoken word events.