Editorial: Failure

Luke Letourneau

Sarinah Masukor

Talia Smith

In the West, we are told our dreams can come true, if only we apply ourselves. There’s a rank positivism that breeds amnesia. It originated in Calvinist America, only to cross over first via Blair and then via Berlusconi with differing degrees of success. Slavs are interested in failure, what it exposes, the pressure and accountability that it breeds. Dreaming is about process more than result. It is the path of thought turned into a line of flight, an escape from something more than the procurement of something, the fantasy more than the speculation of a job, the reverie of a pay raise or the hope of a score. (1)

Recently, I’ve been thinking about a photo I saw on the internet, of a pizza hut aflame. In the image, which is low resolution, the building sits in an empty carpark, set thoughtlessly in space. The building’s squat red roof is caving in under a thundering mass of smoke. The image is unintentional. It documents an event. And yet, there’s something about it and its presence online in an inventory of other images of those weird culturally hybrid structures burning to the ground…something about something…

Now, we talk often of the failure of capitalism.

In the issue: ideas about failure that are funny, sad, irreverant, potent, portent

the F A I L U R E to make a mark, to adhere to the guidelines, or know what those guidelines are, not composing your images, being unable to find words, or having too many




and also, a stretching of the word’s meaning
artists who experiment with process, work that emerges out of a dedication to craft and all the attendant mistakes, tests and discoveries
work that is in a state of becoming, process as transcendental, a commitment to the things you can’t win.


You can only fail in relation to predetermined parameters for success.

Failed attempts are necessary for breaking ground.


Failure was a hot topic in 2014. This year, it’s 2017. But coming too late means an empty room in which to dance freely, fast and loose, to whatever music you choose.



(1) Slavs and Tartars, “The Slavs: Redeeming the East in Eastern Europe”, in Social Medium: Artists Writing, 2000-2015 (New York: Paper Monument, 2016), 230.



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Luke Letourneau is a writer and curator working in Sydney. He has curated exhibitions at Gaffa Gallery, UNSW Galleries, Firstdraft, Seventh Gallery, ARCHIVE_, 107 Projects...

Sarinah Masukor is a writer and moving image maker. Her current work explores relationships between fiction and criticism, cinema and gallery. She has participated in...

Talia Smith is an artist and curator of Samoan, Cook Island and New Zealand European descent. Originally from New Zealand she is now based in...


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