The Editors of Double Dialogues would like to announce the introduction of an exciting new initiative: In/Stead, an ‘on-going’ journal issue devoted to artistic practice and philosophical reflection both in relation to the process of that practice and the contexts in which it occurs.

In/Stead is an ‘open’ issue which means that it is open to submissions at any time. The name of this publication, In/Stead, finds its inspirational source in the workshops run by Christina Stead in New York during the 1940s. Christina Stead, renowned and award-winning Australian author of thirteen novels including The Man Who Loved Children, Seven Poor Men of Sydney & For Love Alone, is seen as a ‘writer’s writer’ with a political conscience and interested in philosophical and aesthetic questions. Stead taught novel-writing workshops during which she encouraged people to write whilst simultaneously understanding how writers across time construct plot and character within political, psychological and aesthetic contexts. Christina Stead was innovative in her artistic practice.The name of this new journal issue signals an acceptance of essays and creative work in relatively new areas that now form part of the academy. When identifying the areas of our interest we have specifically referred the reader to articles in this current issue that fall into each category. This is designed to assist potential contributors when they consider whether their offering is suitable for publication in this journal.

We are therefore interested in papers that might fall into any of the following categories:

1. The Creative Process
Whether in relation to film; theatre; dance; creative writing, the visual arts, music or hybrid combinations of any of these (or others). These papers will tend to be informed by theory.

Examples of published contributions to this section, in this issue, are:

Grant Caldwell focuses on a particular poem and poet and questions whether a certain life-experience has unconsciously influenced the content of the poem. The paper theoretically engages with the anomalies associated with the ‘Intentional Fallacy’ and recommends young poets in the making to trust in what will inevitably be present in their art – the unconscious workings of their mind.

Patrick van der Werf travels across important voices on tragedy in the last few centuries. Van der Werf explores how thinkers and creative writers (including himself) who deal in tragic themes are continuously releasing themselves from a representation of ‘selfhood’ or ‘character’ that was previously driven by psychological realism, and from a dramaturgy driven by ‘humanism of character’. His article deals with the representation of cruelty and pain (as exemplified in his play Breath), with an emphasis on the fact that pain in theatre is performed pain and that the quality of the aesthetic distance is ‘an invitation to the spectator to participate in the performance of empathy for the suffering of the mimetic, integrated, autonomous subject’.

 

2. Research and Art-Practice Projects
It is anticipated that In/Stead will provide an opportunity for people to share the process of their art-making and that they will continue to submit progress reports during the period of its construction.

Examples of published contributions to this section, in this issue, are:

Rob Haysom in his article, ‘Space and Place’, writes about space, place and time; he demonstrates how, in the process of his art-making, these concepts form literal and symbolic significance. The writing of this piece is instructive for artists who flounder, at times, at the prospect of writing about their art, the processes involved, and the possible meanings it might entail. Haysom takes the reader through a multi-layered journey during which he successfully integrates motifs and icons that interest him as a painter and as a spectator of and commentator on art. The journey, therefore, is literal in a geographical sense in that Haysom takes his reader to specific places in order to experience the impact of location; it is metaphysical in that the icons he chooses are seen to have transcendent meaning of a philosophical and aesthetic nature; and it isactual in the sense that, as readers, we experience, and vicariously travel the methodological journey of the painter, who, with an idea and a location, enacts with paint a resultant representation.

This issue also includes an essay by Deborah Walker, an Australian painter who has had 80 exhibitions in the last twenty years. Walker provides a context for her current work by explicating the way her recent visit to India forms the stimulus for her forthcoming paintings. This article consists of excerpts from her diary as she travelled in India in search of motifs, location and a certain sensibility that challenged her known self. Walker’s engagement in the scenic views, architecture, particular characters, moments of loss and alienation, feelings of shame and self questioning are seen to fuel her artistic processes which are seen, in this article (and I might add in her paintings), to be inseparable from the philosophies that drive her spirit and the life lived.

Jenni Mitchell, in her short paper designed to support her series of photographs, writes about how the landscape generates the soul of her art. Interconnecting the inherent sublimity in expanses of ice and salt, Mitchell represents the experiences of Lake Eyre and the Antarctic aesthetically, personally and as integral to her aesthetic practice.

 

3. Creative Writing
Creative pieces in this section may or may not include an exegetical component, but will tend to be informed by theory.

Examples of published contributions to this section, in this issue, are:

Joanne Scicluna writes about being a writer – her access to impossible, unconscious imagery and her search for a narrator that visits in varied forms. Scicluna incorporates into her narrative about the ‘coming’ of narrative, the events of the day, her own human urges and the walls that contain her. There are mysterious visitors, a live-in child and conversations that find their way into this story. As the piece is woven, the artworks ofElizabeth McQueen emerge into and along side the verbal text. One learns from reading this piece:‘The job of a writer is to be alone until your friends come…the job of a writer isn’t to run but to weave’.

Jennifer Rutherford’s moving poem/prose Cloth, Clay, Corp takes the reader on multiple journeys that impinge on each other. The reader enters into a dream-like world as a woman explores the materiality of her body, her sexuality, her role as seducer, as mother, as percipient lover and as creator of art, words, and self. Words of colour and fluidity give this work a sensuousness and symbolic power that invites the reader into secret places that women know but rarely speak. The voice takes on the voyage of a potter attempting to mould the body of self (emptied and filled) within the clay she spins on the wheel. Alongside this act there is the narrative of a relationship, its tenderness, its uniqueness, its sensitivities and how it moves into an arena of loss and separation and how at the edge of the greatest separation she, like the pot, is reduced to an object, the pot that is abused by a sexuality that has become separate from its earlier tenderness and surprises. This section is written in a brutal way and takes on what some readers may read as the excesses of Sade. This section is integral to the meaning of the piece, but readers are warned that they might find it offensive.

Ali Alizadeh’s epic poem is based on the history of Joan of Arc. Alizadeh has chosen the epic poem form to re-present what is – as much as can be gleaned from the records – the narrative of Joan. Drawing from the manuscripts of Joan’s trial, her correspondence, relevant chronicles and extensive research into the socio-political and religious contexts of her time, Alizadeh’s poem breathes new life into the story of ‘The Maid of Orleans’. Alizadeh’s exegetical component explicates the role that epic poetry can take when re-addressing what otherwise was seen as historical reality. Poetry provides another way of interpreting historical sources and the discourse that surrounds them.

Rohan Wrightman re-invents Allen Ginsberg’s Howl in order to write a poem about marginalised people during the 1980s in Melbourne, Australia. Epitaph, like Howl, is concerned with the epidemic of death amongst young people who did not ‘fit into’ their society. The poem deals with the horror of drug addiction, its causes and its aftermath. Wrightman, utilising the ‘rushed rhythm’ of Ginsberg’s poem, speaks as both observer and participant about a ‘diseased society’; it was a society that robbed the writer of many friends at a young age, yet for him it was one that he was able to rejoin. Nevertheless the poem, although dealing with the past, has contemporary relevance and points to some of the ramifications of a regimented society.

Estelle Barrett writes a moving story about an abiding friendship across time between two people. Taking as her inspiration the insight that ‘…Music is a tonal analogue of emotive life’, Barrett’s narrative reflects what she sees as a kind of ‘materiality’ of the power of poetry and language (and its analogue with music) to rechannel creatively in the face of suffering in a way that may purge and make ‘real’ what might otherwise be an inexpressible and an impossible burden of pain. Her exegetical piece develops the theme referring to, for example, Julia Kristeva, who asserts that creative textual practice is a means of assuaging grief and melancholia. Barrett emphasises the ways in which Kristeva attributes this reparative dimension of language to its material and sound base, a musicality that is particularly characteristic of poetic language.

Alan Woodruff has written a film script, Absolute Zero. In the past time of the film, a man is locked into a meat freezer on a train. Slowly freezing to death, he writes an account of his ordeal on the freezer walls. In present time a doctor is interviewed about the case. The twist in the story should be discovered by the reader, but the script beautifully explores the power of the human mind, while leaving enough unresolved for readers to make their own conclusions. Absolute Zero has won the Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE for Best Short Script and the PAGE International Screenwriting Awards (USA) Gold Prize for Short Film, as well as being a finalist in a number of other awards.
4. Contexts and Practices
In this section are essays that act as either a review of contemporary work or which contextualise contemporary questions about artistic practice and the theory of such practice. This section will also include the ways in which the practice of art might be seen as problem-solving in relation to social, economic and political issues.

Examples of published contributions to this section, in this issue, are:

Angela O’Brien in her article ‘The Lost Princess, a Risky Character’ explores the impact that art programs designed to assist marginalised young women/adolescents have on one particular girl who she has named ‘Anna’. The choice of name is deliberate in its allusion to the ‘mythological’ Anastasia – supposedly the surviving princess and daughter of Tsar Nicholas II – who in the fifties had become a metaphoric narrative for lost beauty and hope. O’Brien’s article is a response to her work on the research project Risky Business; it outlines the aims of the research project, emphasising the need to help reconstruct such a lost life by empowering Anna to tell her own story and/or represent it in artistic practice. O’Brien’s findings are instructive, surprising and vital.

John Jacobs directs plays both within and outside the academy. This scholarly paper, ‘Bring Back Bradley’, tracks the history of plays being treated as texts (to be read) instead of in terms of their status in performance. Jacobs is on a mission here – one that involves the argument against ‘graphocentrism’– defined as ‘the repression of performance, the privileging of reading over bodily (including vocal) presentation, the reception of play-scripts solely from the point of view of the reader’. Jacobs looks at a cross-section of critiques on Shakespeare’s Othello demonstrating how they reflect the ideological preferences endemic to the ages from which they emerge. In each instance Jacobs argues that critical methodologies engaged, when representing Shakespeare, are misguided and seriously flawed in their failure to deal with a play as a performance piece set in a particular theatrical space.

George Rait’s article ‘Look Down, Look Up: Barbara Bolt’s Art Beyond Representation’ has two agendas. In the first instance. he is concerned with reviewing a book by Barbara Bolt titled Art Beyond Representation. In the light of a theoretical context driven by Heidegger’s view of ‘truth’ he attempts to explore Bolt’s view that art goes further than merely representing in that it also ‘performs radically’. Secondly, he refers to his own project in which he analyses the kind of artistic experience enacted by the ekphrastic poet. Rait contends that such a poet practices a particular kind of ‘seeing’. Rait is not only interested in what art may represent but also the encounter the artist has with his or her materials of practice. Rait’s analysis draws on Heidegger’s theory of art which leads him to viewing the poet’s response to paintings as ‘restraining usual knowing and looking’. Primarily this essay is concerned with ‘representation’ as an unstable process occurring within and outside signification. Rait argues that this very instability enables us to confidently predict that all art produces ‘real material effects’, or in other words, Heideggerian truth.

Juliette Peers’ article gives an historical overview of how and why the history of Australian fashion performs a significant thread not only in our history, but also in the history of art practice and theory. Peers represents the ramifications of the ‘canon’ or the practice of writing around historic Australian Art as tending to ‘deliver (white) Australia from the abject, the liminal, and the ambiguous’. This essay goes outside perimeters set by art historians, such as Bernard Smith, and maps the impact that fashion has had on practicing artists and how it has ‘shaped and illuminated the Australian visual cultural experience, generations before fashion has been accorded a place within the institutional and academic hierarchy’. Peers accomplishes a great deal in this article – demonstrating the significance of fashion, and its history, in the expression of contemporary issues dealing with commodification, race, gender, class and the art of transformation.


5. authorspeak
This section is for published writers to have an opportunity of informing potential readers about their recent publications. Published writers are well aware of how reviews of their work can cause much dissatisfaction. I do not refer here to reviews that are simply negative, but more to ones that do not represent accurately what these texts are about. In this section, writers will have an opportunity to ‘sell’ their work. That is, they have the theatrical-space to dramatise the kinds of problems they were attempting to solve, to note the extent to which they believe this was realised or not, and to invite commentary in regards to aesthetic and intellectual questions deemed relevant to contemporary thought and artistic practice.

In this issue we have included overviews of different kinds of publications written by the authors in order to allow writers of recently published books to view the range of subject areas and genres we are interested in highlighting in this journal. Hopefully these overviews will interest writers who wish to communicate the raison d’être of their work to a large international audience.

POETRY

Maria Takolander writes about her recent book of poetry, Narcissism. She has stood apart from her poems and identified the forces within herself as an artist and those that she sees as explored by Freud in his representation of the uncanny. She writes: ‘The uncanny, according to Freud, is the anxious experience of sensing those things we have forgotten about ourselves; those things we cannot know about ourselves; those things we do not want to know about ourselves. But it’s an erotic experience, too. The uncanny describes not only a terrible recognition of primal urges but also a carnal awakening to repressed truths — of the soul as a ghost of our own making? — arousing reckless, narcissistic desire’. This essay will draw you to her recent book of poems: Narcissism.

ESSAYS & POEMS ON CONTEMPORARY AUSTRALIAN CULTURE

Terry Cantrell’s book Five Sides of the Fence will appeal to anyone interested in contemporary Australian culture. In this essay by Cantrell one can see why the author is intrigued with how political, social and personal ‘fences’ serve to motivate us as much as they succeed in imposing constraint. Cantrell’s essay explicates how these 32 pieces of both creative and non-fiction pieces emanate from his inside experience of the media, anti-globalisation from a protester’s perspective and straight journalism with a creative flair. The essay also explores some of the issues the writer was concerned with that were channelled into personal reflections and the occasional poem in his book.

ESSAYS: PHILOSOPHICAL AND THEORETICAL ESSAYS ON CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL AND AESTHETIC GLOBAL ISSUES PERTINENT TO THE ELECTRONIC ENVIRONMENT

Justin Clemens and Dominic Pettman in their book Avoiding the Subject: Media, Culture and the Object, write with a particular audience in mind: people interested in visual culture, critical theory, cultural studies, film theory, and new media. This book provides a fresh approach to the electronic environment. Clemens in his essay in this issue ignites interest in the book with some sample questions that the text addresses: What can Roger Rabbit tell us about the Second Gulf War? What can a woman married to the Berlin Wall tell us about post-humanism and inter-subjectivity? What can D. J. Shadow tell us about the end of history? What can our local business route tell us about the fortification of the West? What can Reality TV tell us about the crisis of the contemporary community? And what can unauthorised pictures of Osama bin Laden tell us about new methods of popular propaganda? Clemens highlights the ways in which these questions, and many others, serve to unravel the enigmas that constitute the postmillennial mediascape. This book, comprised of nine interrelated essays, focuses on the neglected significance of the object within today’s discourse networks. Avoiding the Subject extends the formal possibilities of cultural criticism by highlighting feedback loops between philosophy, technology, and politics. Clemens in his essay outlines the arguments and gives readers the impetus to access the book.

INTELLECTUAL BIOGRAPHY AND PHILOSOPHICAL INSIGHTS ABOUT THE NOTEBOOKS OF A POET

Ann McCulloch writes about, and represents the work of, the internationally celebrated Australian poet, A. D. Hope. Although McCulloch would not see her work as strictly biographical or strictly theoretical or simply a study of Hope’s notebooks, this book concerns itself with all of these elements. Primarily the text acknowledges that the greatest story to be told about Hope is the ‘story of his mind’, a story that has a problematic relationship with his life. McCulloch attempts to solve intellectual puzzles about one of the leading thinkers and poets of the twentieth century; her tactic of using Hope’s own voice in relation to the 12 puzzles she isolates is a tantalising one.

Invitation to submit to authorspeak
We invite writers to submit overviews of their recent publications along the lines of those published in this on-going issue.

It will be necessary to send not only the article, but also a copy of the published work so that the essay on the work can be refereed and reviewed for accuracy and pertinence.