Journalism and the public sphere come in many different shapes and sizes. The particular shape and size that I will be talking about this week is “aesthetic journalism”. Now, aesthetic journalism is not to be confused as art, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Cramerotti states that:
“The relationship between journalism and art is a difficult territory to chart. What I call aesthetic journalism involves artistic practices in the form of investigation of social, cultural or political circumstances. Its research outcomes take shape in the art context, rather than through media channels.”
Essentially, aesthetic journalism is just another way to explore and create discussion about current issues. It may be in the form of an art installation, a painting, fashion, dance, etc.
A youth theatre group based in Carlton, Sydney called Shopfront Theatre have, on several occasions, transformed local areas in order to create a discussion on relevant local and global issues. Huge installations and performances were held in public spaces such as At the Drive-In, which was first performed at Hazelhurst Gallery in Gymea in 2010 and then re-imagined by local residents in Broken Hill. For this project the young artists created a performance at a local and public gallery which started as a typical “drive-in movie” experience for the audience. However, things soon got interesting when the zombie/ alien movie became a reality. Performers and audience alike were shuffled into quarantine and immersed in a performance full of song, dance, art installations and about isolation and alienation. If you’re interested in seeing a slice of these performances you can click here to see them at Hazelhurst and Broken Hill. (If you look closely you may spot a familiar face.)
So how does this tie into a concept like aesthetic journalism? These performances weren’t just about zombies and aliens, although that doesn’t take away from the fact that zombies and aliens are pretty cool. These performances were created as a commentary on local and global issues of alienation due to differences such as race, social caste and gender. Afterward, the audience was encouraged to discuss what was said and what they thought, which allowed a public conversation that may not have occurred independently.
See, journalism isn’t all news-roomy and boring. It’s exciting and innovative and is constantly creating new ways to converse and approach local, national and global issues.
Cramerotti, Alfredo, 2011, “What is Aesthetic Journalism,” in Cramerotti, Alfredo, Aesthetic Journalism: How to Inform Without Informing, Intellect, London