Public media spaces and creative cities play an increasingly pivotal role in the way in which we understand and in turn, form an opinion on, a variety of issues, both on a public and personal level. Inextricably linked to this, is the notion of aesthetic journalism. Aesthetic journalism “involves artistic practices in the form of investigation of social, cultural or political circumstances” (Cramerotti 2011). In a contemporary context, we see examples of this everywhere. They come in the form of festivals, exhibitions, installations and more generally through ideas and media (O’Donnell, 2014). Aesthetic journalism works to produce an experience that combines both art and journalism, creating a unique perspective that is open to interpretation, fostering conversation in the public sphere. It also raises questions regarding the future of journalism and how artistic practices are coming to inform it.
The Biennale of Sydney, this year titled You Imagine What You Desire, constructs an immersive artistic experience which deals with a variety of meaningful issues. An artwork by Hadley + Maxwell, called Manners, Habits, and Other Received Ideas is currently being exhibited at Carriageworks. The artwork is comprised of three sculptures, each an assemblage of different parts of existing historical monuments and sculptures which can be found around Sydney. The sculptures were created by pressing Cinefoil (a matte black foil, most commonly used in theatrical lighting) into an existing sculpture, making a virtually identical imprint (Biennale of Sydney 2014).
The work deals primarily with the notion of public memory, encompassing facets of different sculptural monuments which act as “material remnants” that “trace our cultural history” (Turnbull 2014). The facets have been separated from their original narrative and put together to create a new sculpture, reinventing history (Beinnale of Sydney 2014). The work examines the role the public sculpture plays in everyday life where they often go unacknowledged. Aesthetic journalism, such as this, provokes a response from the viewer and asks us to question our everyday surroundings and how this may have been shaped by history. Unlike traditional, passive journalism, immersive artworks require viewers to walk around, look at the sculptures and form a personal interpretation of their meaning. Perhaps most importantly, aesthetic journalism requires society to think critically, creating a more holistic perspective of political and social issues.
Biennale of Sydney 2014, ‘Artists: Hadley + Maxwell’, Biennale of Sydney, viewed 9 April 2014, http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/19bos/artists/hadley-maxwell/
Cramerotti, A 2011, ‘What is Aesthetic Journalism’, Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform without Informing, Intellect, London
O’Donnell, M 2014, ‘Media Space: Cities, Festivals and Installations’, lecture, BCM310, University of Wollongong, 7 April 2014
Turnbull, D 2014, ‘Sydney Biennale artists Hadley + Maxwell are ‘busting’ open the Powerhouse Museum Collection’, Inside the Collection- Powerhouse Museum, 12 March, viewed 9 April 2014, http://www.powerhousemuseum.com/insidethecollection/2014/03/sydney-biennale-artists-hadleymaxwell-are-busting-open-the-powerhouse-museum-collection/