Editorial Thursday 27 August 2020

Keith Gallasch & Virginia Baxter

The highly successful 2019 exhibition In Response: Dialogues with RealTime, which celebrated the interplay between RealTime and the artists Martin del Amo (image above), Vicki Van Hout and Branch Nebula (Lee Wilson, Mirabelle Wouters), is now exhibited online. A generous offering of essays, performances and audio interviews sustain the legacies of the participants and provide an excellent resource for students, researchers and the public. We also interview instigator and co-curator Dr Erin Brannigan about her motivation for mounting this innovative exhibition. In another bold archival venture, Madeleine Hodge and Sarah Rodigari have created Timely Readings, a visual mapping of live art in Australia drawing on the vast RealTime archive. We expand artist Sam James’ place in our archive with an in-depth interview about his remarkable 2019 solo exhibition Interminable Present and the pre-COVID-19 conceived work Panic Embrace, produced for the 2020 BLIK BLIK light festival in the Czech Republic.

Thinking about panic, art has never seemed so ephemeral, fraught and vulnerable and further endangered by arts ministers state and federal (from kickstarters Brandis and Fifield to Harwin, Marshall and Fletcher) who have tossed out the arm’s length principle in favour of direct control, even as funding rorts proliferate in ministries elsewhere. Yet again, artists are being told that they have to make their case to government for funding, with the same figures, the same arguments and to no good end. We might better ask, what is it in the Australian arts imaginary that never quite manages to embrace the arts with generosity, let alone passion? There’s a bigger argument to be had about our culture. Our compassion for our fellow players in the arts is deeply felt. We hope you can sustain your creativity through these art-defying times. Keith & Virginia

Top image: Martin del Amo, talk/performance for In Response: Dialogues with RealTime, UNSW Library, photo Jackson Mann

27 August 2020