Editorial: Like Comment Share

This morning as I waited in line at the coffee shop, I glimpsed the cover of an ‘esteemed’ print news publication and audibly groaned at the genius front page headline: ‘Night MAirBnB’. This is just another in a veritable tidal wave of populist protest and reportage on the thrills and spills of the ‘share economy’, particularly the multibillion dollar venture capitalists who are now helping to shape the way we define ‘sharing’ in the twenty first century.

"I’m a fan of sharing. Well at least I thought I was."

At the genesis of Sturgeon issue #5 was a desire to explore the mutation in meaning of sharing by looking at how it manifests in a range of contemporary contexts. In part this was prompted by a consideration of the environment within which Artbank now operates; as one among a varied industry based on alternatives to long held beliefs about ownership and the provision of services (from status to necessity). The recent boom in the collaborative consumption sphere, along with the kind of press major players often receive makes me wonder whether we will see the word ‘share’ go the way of ‘eco’ and ‘experience’? That is, what etymological outcome will we see for sharing? Will it survive the gravitational pull and ingrained value structures of late capitalism?

I’m a fan of sharing. Well at least I thought I was. I was terrible at it as a kid—my nearest and dearest would probably testify that I still am—but I like to think I’ve always grasped the general premise: generosity, coownership, give and take, swapping, borrowing and so on. Primary school lunches were a great starting point. I also have a firm memory of my first, and only, visit to a gathering of the community sharing group ‘LETS’ as an eight year old. It was an incredibly positive display of exchange for goods and services in which no money seemed to manifest (a utopia for a scheming kid with no capacity to raise funds, other than the onecent- per-dandelion-weeding-wage). While my family never went back to the meets—we had neither the goods nor services required to enter into an economy fuelled by vegetables, baked goods, handyperson skills and kumbaya—this was an eye opening and considerable influence on my ongoing interest in exchange as alternative to mass consumption.

As a disgruntled ex-fashion design student a decade ago, my first ever exhibition included a clothes swap at the opening, inspired by the events run by then Melbourne based group, The Clothing Exchange. I co-opted the founder Kate Luckins into speaking on the local radio with me about the foibles of the garment industry and exchange as a viable alternative. As such, it is a treat to have The Clothing Exchange referenced in this issue, in Alison Gill’s astute reflection on the value systems in place around clothing and the resulting challenges of re-use.

Beyond exchange, this issue explores aspects of ‘sharing’ in the form of collaboration, featuring the art and life partners Claire Healy and Sean Cordeiro, and the stellar work and stories of the Ken family from Amata in the APY Lands. Anneke Jaspers delves into the work of collectives and audience participation, touching on the impact of the move towards an experience economy in art practice and institutions.

With the Internet aiding in providing connectivity (and a false sense of the kind of community that my parents reminisce of times past), it has also become the breeding ground for the mutation of meaning of sharing into the realm of the ‘overshare’. In their infinite brilliance, the ladies of DUKE magazine (2006–09) have joined forces for a mini-reprise of the magazine, condensing the trends, trash and overshares gleaned from life and the web into a glittering summary that begs the question, as posed by the queen of overshare, Lena Dunham in an NPR radio interview: “Too much information has always been my least favourite phrase because what exactly constitutes too much information?”.

This issue is to be shared (but please also buy a copy).

Miriam Kelly
Guest Editor, Sturgeon


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"This issue is to be shared (but please also buy a copy)."