Broadsheet: synopsis of Summer issue 45.2, September 2016

It is gratifying in this summer issue to be able to introduce Broadsheet Journal’s Editorial Advisory Panel. A distinguished group of national and international artworld professionals, they are; Claire Bishop, Rex Butler, Robert Cook, Pedro de Almeida, Léuli Eshraghi, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Helen Hughes, Carol Yinghau Lu, Jacqueline Millner, Djon Mundine, Brigid Noone, Maura Reilly, Terry Smith and Vivian Ziherl.

What is more synonymous with the Australian summer than the beach? It occupies, says Gary Carsley, ‘a singular place in the cultural construction of Australian identity.’ Yet, as Carsley further observes in his lively essay on the work of Daniel Mudie Cunningham (and more broadly, the music video in Australian art practice), it has become a contested rhetorical site. Filmed against the backdrop of Cronulla beach, the topical cover image of the summer issue is a still from Daniel Mudie Cunningham’s reworking of Cyndi Lauper’s 1986 hit True Colors.

The dual catalysts for Rex Butler’s text were a newspaper article about artists finding ‘fame and fortune using social media’ and Robert Leonard’s characterisation of post-criticality in his 2011 essay ‘Michael Zavros: Charm Offensive’. In a characteristically probing essay titled REALLY POST-CRITICAL, Butler considers the tensions, the ‘ambiguities and contradictions’ inherent in the theorisation of post-criticality in relation to the practices of Brisbane-based artists Michael Zavros and CJ Hendry.

In a challenging year for the visual arts in Australia, Broadsheet Journal remains committed to not only providing a space for genuine and extended critical debate about contemporary art and the wider visual culture, but to also offering greater voice to an expanded range of contributors. This issue, for example, features substantial essays by three, first-time contributors to Broadsheet – Erin Brannigan, Ivan Muñiz Reed and Veronica Tello.

Continuing Broadsheet’s conversation about dance in the museum (see Claire Bishop in Broadsheet Journal 44.3), Erin Brannigan’s essay ‘Positively Unassertive: Dancing in the Art Gallery of NSW’ examines contemporary dance, which is assured, yet unassertive (Shelley Lascia, Lizzie Thomson et al) in the context of developments – both contemporary and historical – in dance and museums internationally. Brannigan’s role as facilitator of the Salon project (part of the dance/choreography-friendly 20th Biennale of Sydney) constituted her response ‘to the impossibility, for those of us working in dance today, of ignoring the question of the gallery or museum.’ Ivan Muñiz Reed contributes to an ongoing discussion on curation (see Terry Smith in Broadsheet Journal 45.1) with a text on decolonial curatorial practice (with particular reference to the Latin American decolonial movement). And in the kind of ‘precarious and volatile climate, which seems to present itself as the permanent condition of our era’, Veronica Tello dissects the twenty-first century phenomenon that is the Silent University and the complex ramifications of its approach to combating (and enduring) current crises of statelessness. Established in 2012 by Ahmet Ögüt, the SU recognises the academic qualifications of asylum seekers and refugees and appoints them as faculty. The way forward for the SU, Tello suggests, is ‘to begin to implement the concept of “shared ownership” [of art projects].’

Helen Hughes reflects on recent collaborations between critical periodical publications and recurring exhibitions including the 56th Venice Biennale, the 2016 Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, documenta 14, the 20th Biennale of Sydney and the 2016 TarraWarra Biennial’s collaboration with Melbourne-based art journal Discipline, which she co-edits. Hughes makes the observation that the Tarrawarra Biennial ‘derives its themes through self-reference to the structuring principles of the journal and biennial that co-curated it: those of being an edition, iterative, and punctuated by pause.’

Ever-alert to an art historical or more particularly, a literary reference, Pedro de Almeida invokes Henry David Thoreau (Walden, Or A life in the Woods, 1854) and Gustave Courbet (A Burial at Ornans, 1849-50), in his review of Digging a Hole in China at OCAT Shenzhen, which presented the work of twelve Chinese artists with a connection to the land. Curated by Venus Lau, it is de Almeida’s view that the exhibition ‘will likely remain an important curatorial interpretation of the field for some time.’ There is a Chinese connection too in the poetic title ‘Biting the Clouds’ of Djon Mundine’s review of Fiona Foley’s work ‘Pontificate on this’, which was part of the exhibition Kurlkayima NgathaRemember Me. A Chinese expression for the practice of opium smoking, it is one of several allusions (literary and otherwise) in Mundine’s text and Foley’s equally layered exhibition.

Finally, Chris Reid identifies the prevalence of art as philosophical investigation in recent art practice in South Australia (Matthew Bradley, Anna Horne, Matt Huppatz, Julia McInerney, Julia Robinson et al). These artists are part of a vigorous strand of younger practitioners, whose practice has in many instances been fuelled and sustained – albeit to varying degrees – through the proliferation (since 2000) of a number of successful ARIs, which offer multiple, previously unattainable creative opportunities, in addition to artist support.

Wendy Walker

Editor, Broadsheet Journal


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