Artists as Journos: The process of contributing to EXTRA!EXTRA!

by Amber Jones

Amber is an interdisciplinary performance artist, theatre-maker, and journalist

Art and journalism have been noted throughout history to have crossed paths and converge time and time again. During the French Revolution some images represented contemporary social conditions and politics began to appear in the works of artists like Francisco Goya and J.M.W. Turner. Both artists and journalists play similar roles within society bearing witness in some way to history or individual experience, both telling us the truth about our society – even if it’s what we don’t want to hear.

Throughout our time here at the Kaldor studio, we are manufacturing a weekly newspaper that responds critically and playfully to Making Art Public, while raising and addressing questions and concerns from our contributors as well as the general public. 

While our editorial team consists of many reputable journalists who have been established within the media industry for years, we have also invited artists to join the bandwagon to contribute a piece of content that engages with ideas that live within the exhibition, but also, ideas that resonate and communicate with their own creative practice and interests. 

Boni and Louise interacting with Project 3: Gilbert & George, The Singing Sculpture

This week we invited two strong female artists – Louise Curham and Boni Cairncross – to undertake the challenge and generate their own content to be produced in edition 2 of EXTRA!EXTRA!. Louise is an artist, archivist and filmmaker, and a researcher at University of Canberra’s Centre for Creative and Cultural Research. Boni is an interdisciplinary artist based in regional NSW. Her practice investigates the cultural and political dimensions of the human sensorium. Boni also is a sessional lecturer in Visual Art at the University of Wollongong, and Design at the University of NSW. 

Louise and Boni allowed me to follow them around the Making Art Public exhibition, while I intermittently scribbled down some notes, giving them some breathing space to engage with the concepts within the 35 white boxes.

They explained to me that their process of navigating this task consisted of collecting their own experimental archival material, documenting their own experience of the exhibition. By making their own records, Boni and Louise had begun to create their own archives through the use of audio logging as well as my assistance in capturing some photo and video evidence.

“I arrived on the day with only a general sense of what my approach would be. The use of audio recording, photos and note taking are tools I often employ during my process, but I often don’t have a set idea on how they will be employed. In the past, I’ve used audio recording as the basis for experimental writing or as a key element of a kind of documenting-machine. But in this case, Louise and I used our walk through the exhibition and our conversation as the prompt for writing a set of instructions to experience the exhibition”. 

Boni Cairncross, 2019

Travelling through the exhibition both artists tried to dedicate equal time to each box, framing their process through the lens of a sensory experience. They each started noticing minor attributes inside the exhibition, like how the graphic decals on the floor felt under-foot, the texture of certain walls, overall sound within the gallery, smell and other visceral sensations. 

Subtle variations in sound bleed often re-contextualised works they were trying to engage with. While standing and admiring the work of Jonathan Jones, you couldn’t notice but hear Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major coming from the reimagined archive of Anri Sala’s The Last Resort

What I wasn’t expecting was to be engulfed in this rich commentary about the history the Kaldor Projects for over two hours, contemplating the shift in context between the original public art projects and their archival remnants. Sometimes it felt a little hard to navigate throughout the exhibition, feeling a little disoriented, not being able to decipher between archival documentation or general decor. 

Boni and Louise interacting with Ian Milliss’ ‘Natural Parallels’

After Boni and Louise had finished wandering around the exhibition, they left the gallery to draft a set of ‘instructions’. These instructions connect with what they call the “extra-visual” – elements which mightn’t be glaringly obvious to the general gallery punter. 

Boni says, “the projects produced by Kaldor Public Arts are particularly interesting to me for two main reasons: first, each project is both public but temporary; second, there are a series of recent projects that engage with live art or performance-based practices. These two things combined – ephemerality and liveness – raise some thorny questions about how to document or record an event”. 

“We were trying to give ourselves a different kind of encounter that paid attention to things you might usually overlook or not notice. I suppose you could call it an unintended or accidental encounter, quite difficult in a controlled environment like an art gallery.”

Louise Curham, 2019
You can find Boni and Louise’s set of instructions in this week’s edition of EXTRA!EXTRA! I strongly recommend you write a letter to the editor sharing any accidental experiences you have while you experience the exhibition.

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