Emergency Theory

Since the week before last, I’ve started to recall and gradually reminisce about Satellite Space and that era. In discussing the term ‘emerging’ I partly cringed at recognising myself, the terminology; but mostly emphathised, particularly with Channon’s reference to the ‘emerging’ timeline of opportunities and the associated anxiety. Made worse or exacerbated by self-imposed pressure. I really remember that.

One of the first projects I undertook as an independent curator was developing a strategy for emerging artists with artworkers alliance. Part of that research was meeting with artists and co, to discuss aspirations, what happens next, i.e. transition from emerging to mid-career. I remember one interviewee in particular saying that young and emerging artists have a lot of power in this city. I think that was true then and it can also seem to be true now. But surely one has to question why a society, a contemporary art community, would give such power to a group of people who by they’re very own description lack experience and a retrospective perspective.

Politicians in particular often tout a leg up to emerging creatives. However, without some support or focus on progressing to mid-career and/or recognising established artists, it can be more a process of disappearing. Albeit, this is not to say that every artist should be destined to have a successful career trajectory. Even so, without a longer-term view, many emerging artists are basically set up to fail.

I was surprised to hear that post-graduation, artist run initiatives are now inextricably linked to and supported by tertiary institutions. For some time, the alternative in alternative-run has steadily faded from these spaces. Nevertheless, it’s still little surprising to be confirmed so definitively. These spaces are no longer anti-institutional, but very much a part of an institutional system.

For some further information visit: Institute of Modern Art – News.


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