Asking the Ultimate Question — On the Origin of Art

‘We want to drag the cultural question into the light even if we fail to dislodge it.’

Elizabeth Pearce(1)

Chris Reid has been a freelance writer on contemporary art and music for over 20 years, in parallel with a career in educational administration. He has a master’s degree in art history and briefly taught that subject. He is currently Chair of the Academic Board at Adelaide Central School of Art and is program manager for the Flinders University lunch hour concert series.

Andrew Goodman is a visual artist.

Letter from Sydney: Thoughts on The National at Carriageworks

Sydney… I step off the plane and start sweating… I walk down the street, the bats are already circling overhead at 3pm (I text a friend in Melbourne, ‘how romantic she says’), the junkies are already circling underfoot. I cross the road to avoid the haranguing and frighteningly large crazy guy, buses everywhere, noisy, dirty, loud, funky and smelly: the Sydney fug… Everyone is badly dressed in that particularly Sydney style: too much colour, too much active wear, too much blond. You could never get away with that in cool, grey Melbourne.

Andrew Brooks is a Sydney-based artist, writer, curator and organiser whose work takes the form of installations, performances, text works and sound recordings. He has performed and/or exhibited in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and Japan and Australia and his writing has been published both locally and internationally. He was a co-director of Firstdraft Gallery (2015-16) and co-curator of the NOW now Festival (2012-14). He is currently finishing a PhD at UNSW Art and Design and along with Astrid Lorange, is one half of the critical art collective, Snack Syndicate.

Image credit: Zan Wimberley

Portrait/s of Embittered Swish

Forming in Melbourne in 2015 the performance art vessel, Embittered Swish, most recently presented Our Lady of the Flowers: Refracted, an exhibition and performance project at Firstdraft (Sydney). This project elaborated on a previous stage show mounted by Embittered Swish in 2016 at La Mama Theatre (Melbourne) that took as its starting point Jean Genet’s novel, Our Lady of the Flowers (1943). The Sydney iteration was a more abstract exploration of this text and a departure from the theatrical form.

Publishing as Performance: On As Much Gold as an Ass Could Carry

As Much Gold as an Ass Could Carry combines the work of poet, playwright and fiction writer Vivienne Plumb with illustrations by artist Glenn Otto. Launched earlier this year at the LA Art Book Fair and published by split/fountain, the publication brings together texts produced over Plumb’s twenty-year career. Rather than taking a chronological approach, these collected works are loosely arranged around particular themes or places.

documenta14 ‘Learning From Athens’

A spotlight circled the façade of the historic building in Omonoia square, there it settled upon the central balcony where a man with a loud speaker, conjuring Hitler bellowed in deutsch repeatedly at us standing in the square, reciting borrowings from Beethoven’s 9th symphony ‘Ode to Joy’ referencing the Ancient Greek Elysian Fields as muse.(1) His mechanized automaton motions and repetitive script alluded, or was a wry quip upon this years’ documenta leaders, (coming across as the colonizing dictator) bringing German cultural hegemony and economic clout to Athens, citi

One Belt, One Road

The parthenogenetic beast that is Art Basel seems to prove that all is well in the world of capital as it continues its quest to separate objects from subjects. For me, there are no highlights, just as there are no lowlights (at the fair). There is an ‘atonal’ note to the proceedings. The one sparkling gem that generated a smile (as one that loves a bad pun) was that the official champagne for Basel (and other art institutions) is called Ruinart.

Ronnie van Hout was born in Christchurch, New Zealand on February 22, 1962. At around the age of 15/16 he decided to pursue the life of the artist. He attended Ilam School of Art in Christchurch. His checkered academic record is reflected in his equally checkered employment record. This continual up and down, in and out, embracing and rejecting relationship is echoed in his liaison with art. His three decade affair with art, and its many worlds, has at times been an unsatisfying and unfulfilling connection, and equally in many other moments has imparted a feeling of joyous madness akin to love.