Sarah Rodigari and I have been commissioned by the Live Art Development Agency (LADA) in London to produce a guide to their Study Room on Live Art practices across Australia. As part of their Study Room LADA commission artists and thinkers to write personal Study Room Guides to help navigate users through this resource. The idea is to enable Study Room users to ‘experience the materials in a new way and highlight materials that they may not have otherwise come across.’
Our proposed guide by-passes the authoritative tone of a pedagogical approach that can be found in curatorial anthologies of ‘favoured’ list of artists names. Rather than debate whose name might be considered worthy of such a document, we’ve turned our attention to Real Time Magazine to consider what kind of history might be revealed through a poetic analysis of the specific lens of this publication.
Our process will not only show the practices as they currently exist but will map the forms emergence, through theatre, social practice and visual arts and provide international publics an understanding of the importance of these traces. Aside from a few stand out publications (Clare Grant, Anne Marsh, Margaret Hamilton) the history of the relatively recent practice of experimental performance and Live Art in Australia is not well known.
Since its beginning in 1992 Real Time’s extensive coverage of descriptive arts writing has not only influenced our identities as emerging artists, but it has tirelessly spoken to and recorded a generation of experimental Australian performance here and overseas. As artists we began practicing not long after Real Time Magazine begun and we have a close personal association with the magazine as readers, artists and writers. Through mining the archives of Real Time, reflecting on what is there, who is missing, we critically engage with how we approach, read, and disseminate this history from a self-reflective perspective.
DAYLIGHTING was a curated programme at Wellcome Collection that asked how we might breach or intervene on existing archives and systems of knowledge, to change narratives and amplify new voices. At the core was the production of DAYLIGHT, a collaborative artwork in the form of a newspaper exploring the presence of women through their art, thinking and speculations. Curated by Madeleine Hodge, Clare Qualmann and Amy Sharrocks DAYLIGHTING sought, in Adrienne Rich’s words, to imagine “the faint, improbable outlines of unaskable questions” and then attempted to make them more manifest in our current landscape, to phrase them in bold letters, shining a light on womxn’s history, carving more space for our future. The programme and the paper asked how we might collectively resist the inheritances of western imperialism inherent in our archives.
We worked with artists from a range of disciplines and included a number of trans, non binary artists and women of colour in the programme. Reflecting on recent scholarship about the exclusionary language that binds us to gendered norms and the epistemic violence inherent in the normative values of the archive felt important to the project and we used the word womxn and women interchangeably across the programme to represent the open future towards which we were working. The use of the word womxn was picked up by campaigners against the GRA (Gender Recognition Act) who complained very publicly about a tweet from Wellcome using the word. Despite conciliatory gestures towards us the Wellcome’s Press made a public apology (without our consent) to appease the twitter mob. We found ourselves in the middle of a furore that strangely reflected the erasure that the project was trying to resist, this was disastrous for our programme and created a narrow frame for the work we had created.
On December 5 2018 we gave a public lecture on the project as part of the Post Graduate Art Talks as part of the MFA Curating Course at Goldsmith’s.