Editorial: Letting the truth get in the way of a good story

“All I want is the truth
Just gimme some truth…
– John Lennon, 1971

This issue of Sturgeon considers two perennial themes important to cultural life: truth and beauty. Personally, I stopped believing in truth a long time ago. If you’ve spent most of your life in the service of art, you quickly realise that truth is an interpretation among many others of the events and things making up everyday life.

Yet, our culture is doggedly held ransom to the imperative of truth, as if we somehow need a benchmark against which to pin all the lies we feel we’ve been told. But as I say this, a John Lennon protest lyric penetrates my headspace—Just gimme some truth—and as it does I understand where truth lies.

Beauty is one of the great lies of our time. And while I think this is ‘true’, I can’t quit beauty or resolve why it is important to everyday life. Or why I feel lied to. That’s fine because the many fine contributors in these pages go some way in fleshing out a diverse, unfixed picture of the poetics and politics shaping beauty and truth in contemporary Australian culture.

In a sense the words and pictures in this issue remind us that contemporary art is important as it makes meaning of life, calling attention to the invisible ideological bonds that tell us what to think and how to be. In doing so, the in-between zones or the ‘grey’ areas (as Mark Feary points out in these pages) are revealed.

It becomes apparent that to talk of beauty and/or truth is to make it visible in unexpected, otherwise invisible places. Whether say in the seductive decrepitude of Polly Borland’s imagery; the subtle “poetics of ordinariness” found in William Yang’s world; the complex relationship of picturing to seeing in Warlpiri desert painting; the mercurial subconscious dream states unravelled by Julie Rrap and The Telepathy Project; or just because (to quote Tricky Walsh’s commissioned work) a single word can cut through the noise and tell it like it is.


Daniel Mudie Cunningham
Editor, Sturgeon


Read in full via the online issue

"Beauty is one of the great lies of our time."