“There is a good side to not being crushed by culture. I think in Europe you’re really aware of the centuries and centuries of Western culture and it has all been done. One of the beautiful things about Australian writing, culture and performance is this sense that that’s not hanging over everybody. I think at its best there is a tremendous freedom in Australian performance, a huge intelligence and a kind of disrespect that’s really healthy.”
– Alison Croggon
In episode two poet, novelist, critic and commentator Alison Croggon, joins hosts Jana Perkovic and Fleur Kilpatrick. We talk about the place of the review in art documentation and how one balances the responsibilities that the critic has to the artist, the audience and to history.
“What there mustn’t be is one singular discourse saying ‘this is how it was’. That’s what I’ve always felt most hostile towards,” says Alison. “(We are now) letting go of the fiction that I think happens less and less, that critics are the objective judges of whatever art happens around their feet and entering much more into the flux of the moment. The moment passes. It must pass. Because it is mortal. That is true of all art but it is why theatre and performance are so extraordinary and so beautiful.”
Discussed in this episode:
the mutual dependency of blogs and independent theatre, Robert Brustein, when reviewers are incorrect, Requiem for the 20th Century, internet trolls (all men!), and the cowardice of anonymity.
“There was always some very brilliant work going on under the skin in Australia. In other places that work would get noticed, and in this country it just didn’t. And I suppose I felt really strongly about that, because I saw so many artists who were kind of destroyed by that – that they simply might not have bothered.”
– Alison Croggon
Enjoy and stay tuned: we have more exciting and intellectually rigorous conversations to come.
Julian Meyrick: Trapped by the Past, Why Our Theatre is Facing Paralysis (Platform Papers, Quarterly essays on the performing atrs, No 3, January 2005)
Alison Croggon: On reading time and memory (Overland, 214 Autumn 2014)
Alison Croggon: The problem of praise (Requiem for the 20th Century) (November 25, 2006)
Photography credits: the amazing Sarah Walker.