26 December 2013

The Lip Anthology: An Australian Feminist Arts Journal 1976–1984

The Lip Anthology: An Australian Feminist Arts Journal 1976–1984 is edited by Vivian Ziherl and published by Macmillan Art Publishing (Melbourne) and Kunstverein Publishing (Amsterdam) in 2013.

It comprises a preface by Helen Hughes, an in-depth introduction by Ziherl, and facsimiles of important articles and visual essays from each issue of the magazine, which was published out of Melbourne and edited collectively from 1976 through 1984. Contributors to these pages included Janine Burke, Annette Blonski, Suzanne Davies, Helen Grace, Ponch Hawkes, Sue Johnston, Laleen Jayamanne, Suzanne Spunner and Ann Stephen, among many others.

The Lip Anthology serves as an excellent survey of what was happening in Australia at this moment in the context of female artistic production, socially, politically, in regard to theory, literature, and of course artistically. It is a valuable historical uncovering that will spur greater reflection and deeper research into this important moment in Australian culture. It is an encouraging document for those interested in Australian artistic practice and history (and for those who've never thought about it), for it recalls the diversity and complexity of production in the country, particularly throughout the 1970s and '80s. The Lip Anthology also serves as a tool for drawing interesting parallels and dissonances with comparable moments in other countries, such as the USA or Italy.

The facsimiled articles are varied in voice but always intelligent in tone. One has the impression of a group of women trying to locate a (collective) voice, a platform for their work, and all the while having to compete at various degrees of intensity with the constant and loud whirl of a patriarchal system that - albeit altered - may resound with striking familiarity to contemporary readers. As Ziherl elaborates:

"Lip magazine was self-published by women ... and stood as a lightning rod for Australian feminist artistic practice over the ‘Women Liberation’ era. The art and ideas expressed over Lip’s lifetime track, with ground-breaking moves into performance, ecology, social-engagement and labor politics, stood at an intersection with local realities. The Lip Anthology seeks a figuration of Lip as a composite feminist entity produced with relation to the situational conditions of its production.

The anthology selection is not proposed as a ‘best of’, but rather as cumulative array of materials indicating the range and dynamism of the Lip project. The diversity of the periodical is privileged across multiple disciplinary vantages, as well as among the varied feminist positions brought together through the discursive space afforded by Lip. Collecting and presenting the materials of Lip for the first time since their original appearance, the anthology seeks (re/de)construction and routes of (re)circulation towards points of (re)commencement."

Vivian Ziherl has launched the book, accompanied by an insightful paper and often one or two respondents, in Graz (Grazer Kunstverein), Amsterdam (Kunstverein), Berlin (Archive Kabinett), London (Cubitt), Brisbane (IMA), Melbourne (RMIT), Sydney (MCA, where I was a very humble respondent along with the remarkable Ann Stephen) and most recently in Beirut (98weeks) - plus I've probably missed some place as there are lots!

For more info on how to get hold of the book, visit Kunstverein (ISBN: 978-1-921394-77-5).


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