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Arts Issue - A look inside Murmur’s new space

Executive Director Amanda Mills gives a tour of the DIY and ephemeral media’s hub

Thursday November 5, 2015 04:00 am EST

In the doorway of the building located at 100 South Broad St., Amanda Mills is busy cleaning. A steady liquid stream mixed with human waste, cigarettes, and other curbside minutiae flows from the sidewalk out into the street. The task has become a bit of a ritual for Mills, the executive director of DIY and ephemeral media hub Murmur, and her staff since they set up shop in South Downtown in early July.


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Two weeks before the 2015 Atlanta Zine Festival Mills and Co. moved into the 1,600-square-foot space, which was made possible by a successful Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $7,000, an assist from the Goat Farm Arts Center’s Beacons project, and other donors. In the time since, the derelict structure’s been gutted, cleaned, and transformed into a DIY resource center, event and exhibition space, and educational venue for local zinesters, and other creatives.

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“We were able to do a lot in a short amount of time, but it’s still ongoing and I think it kind of always will be,” Mill says, surveying the space in its current state. “That’s sort of the punishment of DIY. You’ve got to work for it all the time, but it’s also the payoff.”

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For the Arts Issue Mills invited the CL staff into the Murmur building to check in on the space’s progress, current programming, and future potential.

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ERIC CASH

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“There’ll be a crowd of people often who don’t appreciate being told not to loiter in front of the space, so it is an interesting relationship to have because I don’t think it’s unreasonable for a throng of people crowding your space but whose job is it to displace that? What sort of conversations needs to be had about it?”

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ERIC CASH

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“There was literally floor-to-ceiling shelving. You can hardly imagine who would need that much retail space, but whatever they were selling it was a lot of it. There was carpet that had already been torn up, but all the carpet tiles and debris were still down so it took a few times, a lot of money, and a lot of effort to get all of that sanded down and we’re still working on pulling the floors, but it’s much more of a usable space now. It was also — to be honest — gross. Even getting it not gross was a huge accomplishment.”

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ERIC CASH

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A visitor peruses Mumur’s zine store, which includes a collection of works from both the Atlanta Zine Fest and the organization’s Printed Matter exhibition. “I think we’ve had a very big hand in creating that DIY community but also in supporting what was already there,” Mill says. “Obviously people have been organizing around and creating zines for decades in Atlanta but recently there wasn’t so much a cohesive place for that.”

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ERIC CASH

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Artist Aida Curtis recently hosted a movement lab inspired by the film Suspira at Murmur. Two moveable walls allow the Murmur team to manipulate the space for exhibitions and screenings. “We’ll have the space available for free for people who want to collaborate with Murmur on something but we also will have it for a very low event rental fee,” she says. “As long as it still fits our scope somewhat, even if it’s not necessarily an event or project we’re a part of. To me, I wanted it to be for other people.”

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ERIC CASH

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“I think there was a demand for it to some extent. We had people reaching out to us. … There’s a huge community that was looking for spaces to use, and there’s already a lot of amazing ones like Mammal Gallery and Eyedrum, MINT, and so on, but I don’t think it hurts to have more. Why not? There’s something that can be said about having a physical presence and a home base and there’s possibilities that come with that. I’m excited to see what that will be.”