Mirvac: Licensing for Sydney CBD installation

In 2013, Artists in the Black was contacted by an Indigenous writer seeking assistance with a contract he had received from Mirvac for the use of his published works in Mirvac’s new development at 8 Chifley Square in Sydney. The 8 Chifley Square development was going to include a landmark work of art by American artist Jenny Holzer, featuring 300 songs, poems, stories, autobiographies and other texts by Indigenous writers. The writing was to scroll in myriad animated effects across an electronic display fitted to a four-sided, 19-metre steel column at the main entrance to 8 Chifley Square, in the heart of the Sydney CBD. As art curator and Mirvac consultant for the project, Barbara Flynn, commented to Arts Law:

“[Jenny] Holzer came to the decision to focus 100% on the writings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander authors following a period of reading texts by a wide range of Australian writers, and being particularly moved by texts by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The title I STAY recognises the importance of family ties and country, and the experience of displacement, resilience and survival recounted by many of the featured writers.”

Through their involvement in the project, Artists in the Black were able to provide, free of charge, independent legal advice to the rights holders whose works were to be incorporated into the artwork. Appreciating the value that Arts Law were able to add to the integrity of the project, Jenny Holzer and Mirvac’s Development team were also able to receive best practice advice from Arts Law ensuring that the intellectual property and cultural issues affecting the Indigenous participants received proper consideration in their contractual arrangements with Mirvac. Authors and their families were involved in a rigorous consultation process throughout the commissioning process and were properly acknowledged and remunerated.


I STAY (Ngaya ngalawa), 2014

LED sign with blue, green & red diodes

708.7 x 68.03 x 62.4 in. / 1,800 x 172.8 x 158.4 cm

Text: “The Letter” from Skins: Contemporary Indigenous Writing by Sally Morgan, © 2000 by the author. Used/reprinted with permission of the author;

“In the Dormitory” from Is that You, Ruthie? by Ruth Hegarty, © 2003 by the author. Used/reprinted with permission of the author.

Permanent installation: 8 Chifley Square, Sydney © 2014 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

Photo: Brett Boardman

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