This year’s best book award goes to Amelia Barikin for Parallel Presents: The art of Pierre Huyghe. Her book elegantly elucidates the elusive practice of Pierre Huyghe, focusing on its complex philosophical implications. His very disparate works, which almost defy the idea of an oeuvre, are shown to be consistently exploring an interrelated set of ideas around duration and in particular the idea of ‘free time.’ Barikin tracks and explains the underpinning ideas extremely well, giving the reader a very clear idea of what is at stake in Huyghe’s work.
The contextualisation of his practice is extremely deft, drawing from a range of disciplines including philosophy, history, as well as pertinent art historical and cinematic precedents. Most notably, Barikin contextualises his oeuvre in layered, complex but readily accesssible ways An important contribution of the book is the recasting of ideas about art of the 1990s, and relational aesthetics more specifically.
Parallel Presents is very clearly structured. Huyghe’s art practice always drives the narrative and close attention is paid to his aims, methods and concerns. The readings of individual artworks are exceptionally well done. Barikin approaches each one as if unique and yet inter-related. She provides such detailed and engaging descriptions that even readers who have not seen the works are able to imagine them.
The book is also outstanding for the quality of its writing. Barikin has successfully written a rich, generous text that engages with Huyghe’s practice in such a way that interest in it will only be further increased. We commend, in particular, the open engagement with ideas that will no doubt generate more ideas.
Best Large Catalogue
Judged by Rachel Kent and Dr Jacqueline Strecker
Winner: 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT7), QAGOMA, Brisbane
Best Small Catalogue
Judged by Dr Rebecca Coates and Associate Professor Tara McDowell
Winner: The Four Horsemen, Apocalypse, Death & Disaster, edited by Cathy Leahy, Jennifer Spinks and Charles Zika
From a field of fifteen entrants, the judges commented:
In an unusually strong group of small exhibition catalogues, we highly recommend the following publications:
Kendrah Morgan, Sidney Nolan: early experiments, with Narelle Jubelin: Coda, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 2012
Scholarly and beautifully written essays that offer new insights into familiar subjects. Meticulous eye for detail. Scale of images sensitively chosen to marry with text, and offer useful contextualization and visual insights. Images range from small thumbprints and details, to large reproductions, and full-bleed installation shots of current exhibition. An important document of the show.
Luke Parker and Ann Stephen, Narelle Jubelin, Vision in Motion, University Art Gallery, The University of Sydney, 2012
A handsome publication, with exquisite use of colour and linencloth hardback binding, that sensitively responds to the artist’s work. Comprehensive catalogue details and information on each work offer future scholars a valuable resource.
The winner of the best small catalogue is:
Cathy Leahy, Jennifer Spinks and Charles Zika (eds), The Four Horsemen, Apocalypse, Death & Disaster, National Gallery of Victoria, 2012
Reproduction of images large and lush for such frequently small and meticulously detailed works on paper. Outstanding scholarship and range of essays. Extremely high production quality. Good sized catalogue for exhibition. Design, font and style reflect the content of the exhibition. Almost not a small catalogue.
Best Scholarly Article in AAANZ Journal
Judged by Dr Edward Colless and Dr Toni Ross
Winner: ‘Entropic Steps: Rocks, Ruins and Increase in John Ruskin, Robert Smithson, and Per Kirkeby’ by Allan Smith
This bumper issue of the journal, the last to be produced by the Brisbane team of editors and the Institute of Modern Art set us a difficult task. Not only did we have numerous essays providing new material and novel interpretations of episodes in modernism, it was gratifying to see four essays devoted to fine grained research on Australian art of the 1960s and ‘70s, fields yet to be carefully investigated by our discipline, a period exercising especial attraction for revision within our contemporary cultural milieu.
However, in addition to revision, the journal also included work of a speculative nature. And, in response to the latter, we have decided to award the best scholarly article prize to Allan Smith’s ‘Entropic Steps: Rocks, Ruins, and Increase in John Ruskin, Robert Smithson, and Per Kirkeby.’ This is an exhilarating piece of writing, full of conceptual surprises and stylistic élan. Competing as a peer with its protagonist Ruskin in descriptive power, the essay surges ahead in torrential poetic amalgamation of mineralogical and meteorological morphologies. The analogies between Ruskin, Smithson and Kirkeby appear in the essay like electrical arcs or solar flares, and thus may appear shocking, yet they are equally intriguing, encompassing and convincing. The method and style of the essay departs from typical art historical modes of exposition, yet is conceptually sure-footed and eloquent. We also appreciated an approach to late modern and contemporary art that activated the return of aesthetic perspectives that might be considered anachronistic or untimely.
Our congratulations to Allan, and considering the strength of this journal issue we would also like to commend two other outstanding contributions.
Susan Best’s illuminating account of Gerard Byrne’s art both refreshes Brechtian directorial doctrine and offers a stinging, timely critique of contemporary art discourses enamoured of performativity and affect. It’s a joy to hear the word “disagreement” contesting the word “difference”!
We also commend Sheila Christofides’ persuasive, empirically grounded revision of the commonplace political critique of Clement Greenberg, which had presumed Greenberg abandoned his Marxist allegiances from the late 1940s in the atmosphere of Cold War apologetics. The detection of a persistent Marxism, if in modified and even subterfuge guise, in Greenberg’s writing in the 1950s and early ‘60s is a provocative piece of interpretative and investigative work.
Best Artist Lead Publication
Judged by Associate Professor David Cross and Professor John di Stefano
Winner: Prototypes by Hany Armanious
Prototypes was a beautifully conceived and executed artist book project. Published on the occasion of The Golden Thread exhibition at Monash Museum of Art, the hardbound volume is an enticing parallel photo essay that draws together a rich assortment of images taken by the artist. Moving with ease across a range of source material that collectively interrogates a rough-hewn yet beautiful aesthetic of the everyday, Armanious offers new insights into his artistic practice. Choosing to eschew a written text, the book unfolds solely as a suite of images each one scaled and positioned on the page to accentuate key meanings and juxtapositions. The result is a publication that challenges conventional approaches to the artist book offering instead a dexterous blurring of artwork and critical reflection.
Best University Art Museum Exhibition Catalogue
Judged by Dr Chris McAuliffe and Dr Michael Brand
Winner: J.W. Power: Abstraction- Création, Paris 1934 by Ann Stephen and A.D.S. Donaldson
The judges, Dr Michael Brand and Dr Chris McAuliffe, reviewed a diverse range of publications against the award criteria. All served as effective records of exhibitions, as well as offering context on the practices of individual artists and their historical or cultural circumstances. Some showed ambition in design, with attention to the complementarity of text and image, along with a recognition of the impact of imaginative design on the reader’s engagement with the catalogue. The award was made to ADS Donaldson and Ann Stephen’s catalogue J W Power: Abstraction/Creation, University of Sydney Art Gallery, in recognition of the following exceptional qualities:
– Depth of historical research, including biography of the artist, reconstruction of historical milieu, use of archives and reconstruction of studio and exhibition practices
– A purposeful and challenging revision of the history of Australian artists’ engagement with abstraction and their participation in international activities
– A generous acknowledgement of the previous researches of peers, along with the presentation of multiple scholarly voices
– Thoroughgoing citation and meticulous tabling of documents and historical data
– An elegant and seductive design enhancing the character and impact of the volume
Judged by Professor Andrew McNamara, Professor Cathy Speck and Dr Anthony White
Winner: Meredith Morse
Thesis title: Shake a Pan of Nails: Simone Forti’s Art of Movement and Sound After Cage and Halprin
Thesis awarded: November 2012 from the Department of Art History and Film Studies at the University of Sydney
The judges comment:
In a close field with such high standards the judges found it difficult to choose just one winner, but ultimately the decision did come down to one. Meredith Morse was declared the winner for several reasons: the clarity and succinctness of the argument, the persuasive style of presentation, and the elaboration of detail and depth in an efficient manner within the allocated three minutes.
A brief synopsis of her thesis from Meredith:
Simone Forti’s work of the early 1960s, regarded as dance at the time and soon discussed as Minimalist, has been acknowledged as influential, yet it has not been treated in the critical literature at any length. In my PhD thesis, I argue that Forti negotiated the unique approach to movement that she learned when working with dancer and teacher Anna Halprin in the mid-to-late 1950s through experimental composer John Cage’s revised models of sound, score, event, and ‘theatre’, innovations of central importance to New York’s new art. My book project, based on the thesis, considers Forti’s work from her landmark early 1960s ‘dance constructions’ and texts to her improvisatory practice of the 1980s. I examine Forti’s use of sound, particularly voice, allowing consideration of the affective nature of Forti’s work throughout her career, and locate her development of a ‘neutrality’ of body in her performance works within a longer history of the moving body in American social thought. The book, under contract with the MIT Press for 2016 publication, is provisionally titled Soft is Fast: Simone Forti in the 1960s and After.