Editorial: Life

Amber McCulloch

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Melissa Howe, The Deconstruction and Reconstruction of the Family Home (2011) 
As chicken is to egg, art is to life. The problem of which comes first has been pondered for centuries, the relationship muddied by the pair’s intrinsic similarity, which is to say, their amorphousness. Unlike the chicken (and the egg, for analogy’s sake), art and life are intangible entities with fuzzy edges. Which spawns the other? Who can say – we don’t even know what they are.

Creationist power-politics notwithstanding, art history tells the story of art’s need to relate to life, and the artist’s experience as a living being. Throughout time, the tack has bounced between responsive, descriptive, prescriptive and speculative. Art moves from being dissociated and aloof (‘above life’) to ingrained and grubby (‘of life’) by turns, alternately drawing inspiration from existence, and shunning everything it has to offer.

Overwhelmingly, the artists featured in this issue of runway, seek to connect with what is considered ‘real life’. Lara Thoms and Dara Gill shift thematic onus onto non-artists in an attempt to elevate the ordinary to a position of notice. Makeshift collective and Kylie Banyard propose new ways of living that respond to the reality of existence on a planet in peril. Cosmic Battle for your Heart and George Edgerton-Warburton allow us to ponder what it is to live as artists, and how art functions as part of one’s life.

Much more than a ‘good way for MFA graduates to meet people’1, the pervading climate of Relational work shows that art, once more, wants to get close to life. But can art ever truly assimilate, or does its inherent cynicism give it away? Does the product approximate real life, or does it become something other – a hyper-stylised conglomeration of the parts of life the artist decides say most about the experience of living.

Coincidentally, this issue marks a new stage in runway’s life, with a new team – Diana, Jai, Julia, Kate and me – at the helm. I think I speak for everyone when I say it’s an exciting prospect and extend our greatest thanks to Jaki Middleton, David Lawrey, Michaela Gleave, Anneke Jaspers, and all the past board members who have, with incredible drive and dedication, grown runway into the fantastic publication it is today. We can only hope that in the coming months, we’ll do as fine a job as its parents.


1. As suggested by Hennesy Youngman in his most insightful Art Thoughtz: Relational Aesthetics video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yea4qSJMx4

Amber McCulloch is a writer, editor and arts administrator, whose experience spans both publishing and the arts, with occasional happy crossovers. Amber has worked as...


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