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An Introduction to Governance

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Conversations around governance and governmentality are ultimately tied to the practice of power. Who has the power, what is its scope, and what are its limits? As we prepare our twenty-third issue, these questions reverberate around the world. The fight for justice for Black communities rages online and in the street, a movement that is emboldened and tenacious. A fire that has burned for centuries roars as protests erupt across the United States, Australia and Europe as the people call for an urgent reckoning. The mobilisation of people on this scale is undoubtedly linked to a global pandemic that has united us all in the call for interrogation and change to the status quo.

The voice of the artist is powerful within this discussion. Charged with critiquing, reflecting and redressing imbalance, we often look to artists and to the arts to rethink the ways we can reposition power. Artists can set the agenda for change.

fine print’s twenty-third issue hinges off a proposition made by Melbourne’s Next Wave Festival; what would ‘A Government of Artists’ look like? What would be possible if we centred ourselves within a politics of hospitality and multiplicity? What is the role of the artist in scrutinising the very role of governance?

Foucault encouraged us to think of power not only in terms of the hierarchical, top-down but to widen our understanding to include forms of social control within disciplinary institutions as well as forms of knowledge. This edition investigates where artists and artistic production sits in the realm of power structures, and what is at work beneath the surface. We question the way knowledge production within various discourses be internalised and used to guide the behaviour of populations.

While ‘governance’—as a concept—holds the latent possibilities of support networks, community and potentiality, our entrenched systems of governing are fundamentally linked with oppression within the tainted vestiges of Colonial rule. Expecting the state to dismantle itself is futile, instead we must focus our energies on dismantling the institutions that support the normalisation of injustice. Amidst ever-increasing connectivity, buoyed by our collective online presence, could collaboration and a reliance on our networks stand in the place of ‘leadership’? What could we achieve together if we were to nourish a system that supports us?

Through poetry, video, imagery and critical text, our contributors consider the ways we govern societies and govern ourselves. Their conversations critique current systems and speculate on alternatives. They address the amplification of underrepresented voices, the ways bodies are navigated through spaces, and the agency of the natural world. They question ways forward for our sector as we emerge from COVID-19; interrogating the relationship between the State and the arts, the onus on institutions, groups and individuals in supporting our sector, and importantly, the toll this can take on each.

Join Bruno Booth (WA), Nicole Clift (SA), Kalanjay Dhir (NSW), Dominic Guerrera (SA) with Latoya Rule (SA), Sasha Smith (SA) and Corey Theatre (SA), Joshua Francis (VIC), Belinda MacGill (SA), Thomas McCammon (VIC), Nur Shkembi (VIC), and Mia van den Bos (NLD/AUS) as they begin this conversation around GOVERNANCE.

And, as we seek to educate ourselves on this most urgent of causes, fine print and our contributors wish to highlight the growing number of foundations and advocacy groups currently raising funds. See our RESOURCES page for ways to financially contribute to the fight for justice. This is a time for listening in order to understand. A time for re-educating and re-focussing as we look for strategies for moving forward, together.

Joanna Kitto for fine print