Keith Haring Uncovered
Keith Haring Uncovered, 2016
Excerpt of Documentary by Renegade Films
Commissioned by the Heritage Council of Victoria and Creative VictoriaContributors
History Council of Victoria
Contact Creative VictoriaCopyright
Heritage Council of Victoria and Creative Victoria
In 1984 American artist Keith Haring visited Australia and created a mural in Collingwood, Melbourne.
Produced by Renegade Films and directed by Bec Peniston-Bird, Keith Haring Uncovered tells the story of how the mural came to be and follows the conservation project that sparked debate in 2013. Above is an excerpt from the full documentary.
The mural, on a wall of the soon-to-be opened Collingwood Arts Precinct, is one of just 31 known murals by Haring that are still in existence worldwide.
Keith Haring Uncovered was commissioned by Creative Victoria in partnership with Heritage Council of Victoria.
Nothing happened at Collingwood Tech, Collingwood Tech was the forgotten school, you had to know how to survive.
It was announced at school assembly that there was a famous artist coming to the school, Keith Haring.
That's right - I remember that.
He was a superstar when he came here. I think he was more important to contemporary art than say Basquiat.
For Haring himself, that kind of bringing, breaking down barriers between high art and low art was very important - with bringing in an urban community and particularly working class communities.
Keith came out with John, looked at the wall and said 'Yes, we'll do it'.
He said, 'would you paint the backdrop?' and I thought, how the hell are we going to do that, where are we going to get the paint.. and they said 'we'll provide the scissor lift, we'll provide the paint and the rollers - you and some of the kids can do it'.
So we did.
All the kids, you know, that wanted to volunteer, were asked to. My job was to drive the scissor lift.
Interviewer: So this is the only work that will be here forever, in Australia, is it?
Keith Haring: Yeah, it's the only permanent thing I did while I was in Australia, yeah.
If that work was in a collection at the National Gallery of Victoria, it would have been conserved within an inch of its life. Situated right near the Tote Hotel, it had a great culture around it - but it also kind of got urinated on a lot.
The Haring Mural was deteriorating, part of that was because of the quality of paint that was used, it wasn't artist grade paint, it was hardware store paint.
Everybody thought it was ruined, it was lost, but we always thought we had to discover the real quality of the materials and the chalking. I think people have the right to see the paint in his quality, and we have the duty to do it.
If the painting is there, and still readable and still the voice of the artist speaking to you, then it's been successful - it's what we always
were talking about.
If Keith Haring still exists on that wall, I think Collingwood Tech will still exist, you know.
Keith Haring: All of these people are doing different things, some of them are like dancing, they are like rap dancing, or they are like acrobatic.. some of them are almost like they're fighting, but they're all, the way they're all together means that they can't like if one of them comes out, the whole thing falls down.