A Big Sparkly Dinner Party was presented at Kudos Gallery, 25 January 2018. It featured 110%, D.A.N.C.E art collective, Keith Gallasch, Maddee Clark, Pedro de Almeida and Scott Duncan.
Midway through 2016, Runway Conversations began publishing weekly art criticism and commentary on artistic projects presented across Australia. Our aim is to reflect and analyse current emerging and experimental artistic practices in this country through the regular publishing of reviews, artist profiles and comment. Content is commissioned through a combination of editorial invitation and writer pitches to ensure Runway Conversations published content from a diverse range of contributors on projects that are both emerging and experimental in nature, as well as up to date.
My name is Luke Letourneau and I write this through the memory of the night 25 January 2018; the night we officially launched Runway Conversations with a big sparkly dinner party at Kudos Gallery, Sydney. Alongside Melissa McGrath, I am the co-project lead for Conversations, which is the companion platform to Runway Australian Experimental Art Journal.
Runway is the journal focusing on experimental Australian art practices, which has been continuously active since 2002. It releases three issues a year which are each organised around a different theme; our current issue, our 35th, is focused on the theme Space and has been guest edited by Keg de Souza.
In her editorial, de Souza considered the artworks and feature articles commissioned for the issues as:
highlight[ing] [the] layered and nuanced ways of existing within society’s gaps or cracks. These are places where people can find solidarity fighting injustice. This is where they can create alternative communities; this is where they can come together to topple power structures. These are the spaces where change is instigated.
The focus of the Runway issues has always been to provide a version of this: a space for artists and writers to consider and provoke the ratcheting of contemporary life through artistic practice.
But, our Runway writers and artists explore the broad implications of these issues through long form criticism and specially commissioned artworks. So where can you go for the more immediate responses to what is happening in our artistic community? Where do you go for the exhibition review? The performance review? The artist profile? The column ruminating on the systems of power and erotics that impact how we negotiate our day-to-day artistic careers?
Oh, well you’re there because that place is Conversations, Runway Conversations.
As we began quietly publishing this content in 2016, we quickly found ourselves part of an arts reviewing resurgence. For instance, 4A Papers launched at the end of 2016 as an online publication releasing issues twice yearly and focusing on the art and culture from the Asia Pacific region. In 2017, RealTime moved to an online publication continuing their long history of covering experimentation in performance. And Un Project began publishing a monthly trove of reviews of project Australia-wide through Un Extended. Another notable mention is Running Dog, launching at the end of 2017 which publishes weekly articles about exhibitions taking place in Sydney and regional New South Wales, and encourages experimentation, playfulness and rigour in its contemporary arts writing.
At Conversations, we are acutely aware that we are publishing our writing in a community of arts writing; and we encourage this. An engaged arts community is important for us all; writers, artists, curators or viewers – there is so much work being produced, so many ideas being interrogated and so we should have discussions about these things.
Which brings us to that night of our big sparkly dinner party. To launch Conversations we decided to hand over to a group of writers and publishers who are our peers in this arts writing scene. We invited Pedro de Almeida and Maddee Clark and Keith Gallasch to speak on their editing and arts writing practices in our arts community, to set their agenda for this new year, but to also sit with us and drink and eat together.
That night was about prodding at our community. To consider where arts writing is now, where it needs to go, and who is it for?
And so I present you with a version of this community’s agenda for 2018:
Luke Letourneau is the Coordinator of Kudos Gallery, a writer and an emerging curator based in Sydney. Luke sits on the board of Runway Australian Experimental Art Journal in the class of 2017-18.
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