Issue 42:1 | Parnati–Kudlila / Autumn–Winter  2022 | Art / Write / Read
Art / Write / Read
Issue 42:1 | Parnati–Kudlila / Autumn–Winter 2022
Issue 41:2 | August 2021 | In Public / Inside
In Public / Inside
Issue 41:2 | August 2021


Art & Text: the rise and fall of theory

Founded in Melbourne by Paul Taylor in 1981, the Australian art magazine Art & Text began the same year Stephanie Britton founded Artlink in Adelaide. During the 1980s and 1990s, Art & Text made global waves. From its earliest issues, it infused art criticism with critical theory when that very notion was radical and fresh in Australia. By his mid-twenties, Taylor had curated POPISM at the National Gallery of Victoria (1982), edited the landmark volume Anything Goes: Art in Australia 1970–1980 (1984) and had moved to New York to become a renowned critic for Vanity Fair, Flash Art and The New York Times.

Someone has to be innocent: a reflection on the post-2020 art critic

In an essay discussing art criticism and the pain it can inflict, the European critic Jan Verwoert reflects on the way most writing on contemporary art has sublimated its brutality or—some would say—its honesty: The main reason for the polite tone in art criticism [...] is that—contrary to the distance that, for instance, separates the opera critic from the social milieu of the orchestra musician—art critics and artists mingle in the same milieu. There is no stage between them. It’s impossible to deny that you are part of the same living social community when the artist you just wrote badly about is also someone you are bound to soon run into again at the next opening in town ...

Damper is a language word for art

Ngami-lda-nha  /  looking

In our past/present/future continuum, we can look simultaneously to the potential of what is and what can be, acknowledging that what we are currently seeing and experiencing is also that which is ‘not yet’. Friend and fellow Gamilaroi Countryman Joshua Waters speaks to the sight/foresight of our ancestors through a story of Garruu Winangali Gii/Uncle Paul Spearim, pointing out to him a barran/boomerang in a tree. Joshua recounts how he spent minutes ‘foolishly looking …for a literal boomerang’, only to realise later that what Garruu was talking about was the ‘future potential state’ of a particular branch that had the perfect curvature from which to shape a barran. Looking to the future, in the now, we also acknowledge and deeply winangali/listen/understand/respect the past work and words of other Blak artists, authors, and thinkers who have generously shaped and progressed what is—in terms of Indigenous art and art criticism, our ongoing agitation for autonomy, agency, and the re-centring and de-homogenising of our art practices amidst constant mainstreaming pressures and perspectives.

Ethics and aesthetics: D Harding, Luciano Benetton and Terra Incognita: inclusiveness is a good way

Because their guiding principles aligned, D Harding was a natural fit as the candidate for curating an exhibition of Australian Aboriginal art from the Luciano Benetton and Imago Mundi Collection. Referring to their Bidjara philosophy, D wrote in their proposal: ‘We don’t exclude anyone; we allow people to exclude themselves.’ They met at the confluence of a similar ethos and aesthetics that underpins D’s art practice and Benetton’s projects, including his well-known fashion house United Colors of Benetton.

A close-up of Amazon Acres: Helen Grace

‘How did it begin?’

‘Desire. Sex. Lesbianism.’

In 1978, Helen Grace visited Amazon Acres, a women’s commune in the mid-north coast hinterland near Wauchope, NSW. She packed her new Olympus camera and brought home several rolls of film. Returning two years in a row, Grace unintentionally collated an archive of one of Australia’s most audacious experiments in utopian living. There are eleven proofsheets: hundreds of photos in all, mostly black and white. For Friendship as a Way of Life (2020), curated by José Da Silva and Kelly Doley at UNSW Galleries, Grace edited these photos down with the assistance of Da Silva to twelve images for a series entitled And awe was all that we could feel

Transformative communities: Curation and care

Group exhibitions are ideological texts which make private intentions public.

In May 2021 the Turner Art Prize announced five artist collectives as their nominees. It was the first time the premier British internationally recognised award did not include an individual artist, reflecting a changing landscape. The prize’s intention is to ‘capture the mood and moment’ of contemporary visual art, and with this year’s nominees, Tate Britain make a bold public statement to the collectivisation of artistic practice. However soon after the announcement, nominee Black Obsidian Sound System released a statement on Instagram criticising the institution:

Although we believe collective organising is at the heart of transformation, it is evident that arts institutions, whilst enamoured by collective and social practices, are not properly equipped or resourced to deal with the realities that shape our lives and work.