Co-respond

Words by Kate Forsyth Photos by J Forsyth

Launch of Co-respond, a SEVENTH Gallery publication

Melbourne’s beard and bun brigade were out in force last Wednesday (2 May) to help the artists of SEVENTH Gallery launch their first publication, Co-respond.

Happening in the band room of Fitzroy’s The Workers Club, we were met by sweet tunes courtesy of the immensely-fringed Simon Winkler; sweet enough to induce a weary woman to dance a little on a cold Wednesday night in a corner of the unfinished-chic look of said band room. A room (or ‘space’ if you’re a bun head or beard face) with transporational qualities, for it took me back to my 80’s family home, lived in for many a year with similar exposed wooden beams and chipboard, resulting from budgetary constraints rather than deliberate design.

Wearing a very fetching skirt, SEVENTH board member Claire Richardson made a lovely speech to officially launch Co-respond (punters received a copy upon entry for a steal at five bucks!), describing it as a collaboration between artists and writers at SEVENTH.

The book’s introduction explains the concept as ‘…exploring the possibilities of collaboration and conversation between visual art and writing. Featuring written works by fifteen emerging writers, Co-respond critiques, expands and documents SEVENTH’s exhibition program from June 2011 to January 2012.’

What does this mean exactly? Well, I think it means SEVENTH’S exhibition program is a gateway drug to more and different art. The exhibitions they showcase are but the start of the art. Documentation of the art creates more art; the art is a muse. In this case, for a very attractive book of essays, short stories, poetry and other writings about the art at hand.

Hey concept? I really like you! And I enjoyed how this event ignited debate which, not so long ago, would have made me spastic with rage. See, I’m a person who’s come across this art caper late. As a 21 year old in Paris, I vehemently opted for Euro Disney over The Louvre. I could be oft-heard hotly declaring I didn’t get it and really, any old Tom, Dick or Harry could probably do it. But three blog posts later and a bunch of art events later, I think I may be ‘getting it’ - gaining an understanding that the concept can be as important as the art itself. Perhaps this new understanding comes with the maturity of age and the perception that intention is a vital ingredient to most things.

Thus, with this new awareness, I was able to very much enjoy Ben Millar and Shannyn Irvines’ performance. Two men armed with guitars of only three strings each, facing a large artwork of three fretboards, they played the music from the artwork as one.

Two as one, playing an artwork. T’was great to be party to, and if I were a judge on So You Think You Can Dance, I would commend them on their ‘syncho’, but since I am not a dance show judge nor were they dancing, I’ll just say the syncronicity of their performance was a highlight and reminded me that as with many things in life, two is better than one, even though it might be quicker or easier or more sensible to go it alone.

Check out the publication online at Co-respond.com (‘tis well worth a squiz), or visit the gallery next time you’re on Gertrude Street. Good day.