October 24, 2012

Critical Mass

A Review from a dedicated Critical Animal:

In the weeks following Critical Animals ’12, we were offered this review by Melbourne based writer, Timothy Balfour, to publish on our site:

These are times of change, in the sense specific to rates of change. Change is happening all the time, at every micro-infinitesimal moment – here is the site of the new. But you already know that because you are reading a review of CRITICAL ANIMALS 2012, a festival that has undergone much change of late, whilst still adhering to the strictest of tenets and the most assiduous of principles.

This year’s symposium had both young and old blood at the helm, the mixture of which manifested a vibrancy to the weekend that complimented the thorough organisation and compositional deftness of previous years.

Panels ranged across discursive planes concerning performative diversity, the relationship between artistic Practice and its old flame Theory, construction of creative Identity, phenomenological encounters with spaces Real and Virtual, the state of engagement with the State via Symbols, and Fluidity in experimental literary/visual Production (deep breath) to say the least! Add to these incisive, considered and at times highly adventurous forums a literal menagerie of readings, performances, exhibitions and launches.  A hyper-colour spectrum of critical interactivity!

At times it feels like the affect of all that creative energy indeed changes one at a phenomenal rate, with those in attendance entering the symposium at the Lock-up on the Friday and exiting out the doors of the Gun Club on the Sunday, barely able to recognise a Self they once called their own.

In speaking with a fellow festival-goer in the time following, I found there was a distinct thematic that seemed to permeate CA 2012, one that may have occurred unconsciously or indeed at the hands of subtle orchestration: the adjunct/disjunct of theory and practice across all forms within the contemporary creative landscape. From this, when I say that these are times of change, I sense that Critical Animals understand this fact all too well. They understand the importance of a vessel (or arc, if you desire), a sanctuary in which difference can be articulated, where a discourse of experimentation and expression has free range, is protected from the threat of mono-cognitive executioners. A space in which we can uphold the right to critical thought.

We are occupied, preoccupied, with critical discourse. It is a preoccupation with connection, with the in-between of a past/future learning-teaching, a playing in the space of the seeing and acting present. We covet the new, yet preserve what has been for the sake of what must come. I say ‘we’ because CA, for me, is the encouragement of participation and communication, a trust in some commensurability with the Other, no matter how Big or small he, she or they is/are. Whether you be poet, play-write, journalist, dancer, architect, warrior for social justice, pioneer of psychology, budding geo-politician or just plain interested, you can be a critical animal. It’s your right.

Make sure to get to Novocastria for This Is Not Art in 2013 for a collective forum that can only increase in its vital capacity.  Critical Animals is an integral event for everyone who considers their world from the perspective of difference, growth and change.

T. Moth Rheopard

(Vice-President of the Rheopard Corrective)