Curated by Jasmin Stephens
Benjamin Forster, Ida Lawrence, Jac Ball, Magda Stanová, Mark Hislop, Mitch Cairns, Nina Ross, Phuong Ngo, Pilar Mata Dupont
3-31 August 2019
The Cross Art Projects
8 Llankelly Place, Kings Cross, Sydney, Australia
The essayist is an exhibition inspired by the literary form of the essay. It presents work characterised by the exacting thinking, careful observation and increasingly confessional aesthetic associated with contemporary essay writing. It is a mode of writing that has come to prominence through writers such as Maggie Nelson and Teju Cole. Against this backdrop of recent attention to first-person writing and the rise of digital readership, today’s essay making – at turns memoir, poetry, philosophy and criticism – is shaped by theoretical shifts relating to feminist, non-binary and embodied approaches to thought and feeling.
The exhibition and its works are not intended to replicate the format of the essay. Their cumulative effect might be to represent or elicit the qualities of an essay. In this exhibition, the artists are addressing a range of concerns. Their works explore private and shared cognition, sensation and allegiances across the body, language, landscape, history and family and include citations and influences drawn from disciplines such as cultural geography, environmental humanities and neuroscience. While reflecting a kind of essayistic disposition, they express different relationships to materials and to considerations of sensibility, structure and form.