There are so many worlds in the art world.
— Nikos Papastergiadis, On Art and Friendship
As Australia closed national borders and banned international travel during the Covid-19 pandemic a seismic shift in activity towards ‘the local’ began to appear. New forms of communication and connectivity grew during social and physical distancing as digital interfaces, community groups and initiatives paved the way for Covid-safe online and IRL spaces. We began simulating alternative forms of ‘togetherness’ whilst physically being apart. Isolation has encouraged us to look critically at public spaces and what we believe its function should be. Nur Shkembi commented in ACCA’s Think Tank Who’s Afraid of Public Space? that the pandemic has accentuated the divisions that already exist—inequality, gender, climate, sovereignty—the list goes on. These divisions continue to mutate and illuminate growing discourse around ownership, policing and safety.
The ‘art world’ considers itself a vast network of practitioners that align, engage and sometimes divide with one another. Since Australia’s sequential lockdowns artists have become a part of the everyday. Whilst other industries scramble to ‘pivot’ and retain their pre-Covid structure it is the Arts (an industry that has greatly suffered the deepest and longest running challenges of this pandemic) that has absorbed these unreal circumstances and optimistically looked at how practice can adapt, reflecting back a truer image of what community and space value today. With an en masse of digital platforms and the growing need for IRL interaction, has self-organisation and the actions of artists better communicated the desires of communities?
a script, an intervention
Devised for ACE Open’s If the future is to be worth anything: 2020 South Australian Artist Survey this spatial and text based intervention is a meeting point where our digital and physical offerings appear as one. Composed from the conversations and interactions with each of the Survey artists and then choreographed by Tarntanya (Adelaide) based dancer, Alison Currie, this work transcribes the shared ideologies and attitudes prevalent in contemporary practice today. These loaded dimensional terms are flattened and strewn across the space to welcome the viewer into the physical action of engagement. Here, public space and perception is fractured and recalibrated in the pursuit of shared and overlapping responses to a site which has transformed art and art-making through exhibition, literature and public programming.
We aim to look deeply at how art, writing and audiences can offer moments of collective kinship whilst examining the interconnected constructs of practice, criticism and performance.
Art is focused on seeking out multiple truths, expansive forms of story-telling, languages and principles. What could we achieve together if we were to nourish a system that supports collaboration and comradeship?
This provocation lines the back wall of ACE Open, calling us to consider the ways we navigate public spaces as we re-enter them, together. This year, as we retreated into in the digital realm, we paradoxically became more aware of our ‘humanness’; what it means to occupy a body, to tell stories, to gesture towards connection. As our relationships have been lived differently—disembodied through screens and over the phone—our need for kinship and contact has been brought into sharp relief. fine print’s twenty-fourth issue asks, what salve can art and the spaces in which it is made, shown, and discussed offer these desires?
Our contributors address these questions as they navigate the varied themes of the artists ACE’s exhibition. Their sound works, videos, poetry, reflective and critical writing thread ideas around counter-culture, the cosmos, identity, politics and history together. As a collective, impacted by the precarity and turbulence of our present moment, their works suggest that a reliance on our networks may bring about resilience during times of uncertainty. This issue of fine print calls to mind the words of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who passed this week, ‘one lives not just for oneself, but for one’s community’.
Miriam Barker-Lanzi & Chelsea Farquhar (SA), Libby Harward & Danni Zuvela (QLD), Lucy Kingsley (VIC), Andy Kuramoto (VIC), Laniyuk (VIC), Lay the Mystic (VIC), Hester Lyon (VIC), Dylan Rowen (VIC) and Olivia De Zilva (SA) enter into this conversation.
COMMUNITY is two-fold: online and IRL.
Through an intimate sequence of performances set within If the future is to be worth anything, the live iteration of COMMUNITY activated animate art criticism, making the written word visible and audible through a collaborative spirit, creating a public space for criticality and discourse around some of the most vital ideas in current practice.
Generating an act of kinship between performer, artist and audience were Manuela Akot (SA), Em König (SA), Michael Kumatpi Marrutya O'Brien (SA), motus collective (SA), Adele Sliuzas (SA), Petra Heath (SA), Ash Tower (SA) and Olivia De Zilva (SA). Held on Saturday 31 October 2020, the IRL intervention lives on through videos by Tom Smeets with sound by Rebecca Taylor and Leah McKweon.
— Rayleen Forester & Joanna Kitto for fine print