Timely Readings: A Study on Live Art in Australia

November 2019
with Sarah Rodigari

Live Art Development Agency, supported by Australia Council for the Arts

To create the guide Madeleine and Sarah turned their attention to RealTime Magazine to consider what kind of history might be revealed through a poetic analysis of this specific publication. Their process not only shows Live Art practices as they currently exist across Australia, but also attempts to map the emergence of the form. Through theatre, social practice and the visual arts, Timely Readings: A Study on Live Art in Australia provides international publics with an understanding of the importance of these published traces.

Since its beginning in 1994, RealTime’s extensive coverage through descriptive arts writing influenced Madeleine and Sarah’s personal trajectories as emerging artists, and has also tirelessly spoken to and recorded a generation of experimental Australian performance locally and overseas. As artists, Madeleine and Sarah began practicing not long after RealTime Magazine was established and they both have a close personal association with the magazine as readers, artists and writers. Through mining the archives of RealTime, in reflecting on what is there and who is missing, they critically engage with how they can approach, read and disseminate this history from a self-reflective perspective.

Part of the Study Room Guide takes form as a double-sided poster which offers an alternative approach to reading the archive. It is both an artwork and aesthetic enquiry which invites the reader to reflect on the vast range of Australian practice. Abstracted titles from over 600 performances produce a poetic record in which themes, styles of language, and syntax re-perform the various threads of performance discourse over time. The published guide includes an in-depth interview with Keith Gallasch and Virgina Baxter, editors of RealTime, revealing the close connection between Australia and the UK across the last three decades. The poster and guide have been designed by Ella Sutherland.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body and the Live Art Development Agency, London.

Timely Readings was launched with an event at LADA in September 2019 with conversations, readings and screenings of works including Club Ate’s Ex Nilalang, the event will feature the London premiere of Amala Groom’s The Union (2019), Melanie-Jame Wolf’s newest work Parade (2019), and a historical performance work by Salote Tawale.  On the night Madeleine Collie performed an instructional introduction by Sarah Rodigari and were in conversation with curator and academic Laura Castagnini and artist and academic Deej Fabyc.