25 April 2014

2 good books, 2 good writers: Amelia Groom, Holly Childs

I have been meaning to mention for a while, these two recently released books by two Australian writers that are really great!

The first is Time: Documents of Contemporary Art, published by the Whitechapel Gallery and MIT Press, edited by Amelia Groom.

The book has been out since late September 2013 but officially launched at Whitechapel Gallery, London, on 27 February 2014. There, Amelia presented a lecture considering 'alternative readings of time in contemporary art, calling into question the way we think about history, change and the future', which parallels the editorial approach in the book itself. In the overview, she wonders:

'What does ‘contemporary’ actually mean? This is among the fundamental questions about the nature and politics of time that philosophers, artists and more recently curators have investigated over the past two decades. If clock time—a linear measurement that can be unified, followed and owned—is largely the invention of capitalist modernity and binds us to its strictures, how can we extricate ourselves and discover alternative possibilities of experiencing time?'



One might be surprised to learn that Whitechapel's highly successful 'Documents of Contemporary Art' series hadn't treated the seemingly obvious theme of 'time' before now, which I suppose reflects the slippery nature of the topic. However, Groom took on the challenge and has managed to wrangle 'time' into shape; or at least offers some very useful tools for shaping, as it were, our understanding of it.

These tools include texts by writers such as Giorgio Agamben, Geoffrey Batchen, Walter Benjamin, Franco Berardi, Georges Didi-Huberman, Brian Dillon, Elena Filipovic, Elizabeth Grosz, Adrian Heathfield, Bruno Latour, Michel Serres, Nato Thompson, and many more, and reflections on and/or by artists like Francis Alys, Paul Chan, Olafur Eliasson, Bea Fremderman, On Kawara, Joachim Koester, Christian Marclay, nova Milne, Katie Paterson, Raqs Media Collective, Hito Steyerl, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Tehching Hsieh, Mark von Schlegell, etc.

A very useful resource, and a pleasure! Check it out on The MIT Press' website: http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/time

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The second I want to mention is a novella by Holly Childs titled No Limit, published by Hologram (a project by Express Media, Melbourne) in April 2014.

No Limit is set in Auckland, where a doomsday apocalyptic volcano fuels the cyber-psyche of a group of young people raving and raving mad. The city is full of ash and the characters seem to float from one less-than-impressed scenario to the next. Windows of light fill the hazy internet-high come down, but the dark depths (or shallows) of the 'scene' and the sense of disconnection from anything tangible are palpable throughout. As the smart, queer, trendy young characters wander aimlessly from hang to hang, party to party, wondering when the world will end, the reader is left wondering whether it ever really began.



Childs' first book is written in really snappy prose, which carries you along and is surprisingly successful at keeping one's eyes off the laptop or smartphone undoubtedly within arms reach. I'm sure the irony is not lost on Holly that while her characters speak in jargon and 'likes', constantly check their phones, post tweets, 'gram shit, she has released a good old book that one can hold and flick through and spill coffee on.

Like, so worth a read! To order No Limit visit: http://www.hologrambooks.com.au/nolimit

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