From the Editor
by Claire Ruud
I never pick themes for issues beforehand; I prefer to allow continuities to appear among features serendipitously. As an editing methodology, I like this: I collect the thoughts of others, look for threads and then weave them together, or highlight a particular idea, in this column. This editing methodology is about listening carefully to other writers and then drawing their monologues together into dialogue in the journal. Even with the rise of blogs and bloggers, journals and editors will always be irreplaceable for this reason. A good editor creates a conversation out of individual voices, and, in the best cases, helps to write a community into being. Fittingly, perhaps, for …might be good’s sesquicentennial issue, the threads I found running through this issue weave around the relationship between real and imagined art communities.
In her Mexico City round-up, the Blanton’s Curator of Latin American Art, Ursula Davila-Villa, returns to her hometown to reflect upon the changing landscape of the art community there. As Ursula points out, the contemporary art scene has been thriving in Mexico since at least the 1990s, and it continues to grow. Its art fair is gaining international significance; its gallery scene is expanding. The story in Mexico City is familiar. I’ve heard similar stories from Chicago, Portland, Kansas City, and certainly from Austin. This is because most art scenes are constantly in a state of becoming. The institutions in these cities are constantly becoming bigger; the market is constantly becoming better; the city is constantly becoming a more attractive place for young artists to move. These cities are never fully “central” never truly “peripheral,” at least not to themselves. In these communities, where there is a sense of constantly becoming bigger, better and smarter, there is a sense of possibility. The imagined future community propels the present community on; if you want to make something happen, there is the sense that you can, if you work hard.
Interestingly, two of the shows reviewed in this issue, Leah DeVun’s Our Hands on Each Other and Sonny Smith’s 100 Records, both stage communities. DeVun’s portraits of women from a particular young Austin lesbian-academic-art set are based on photos from lesbian separatist journals printed in the 1970s; they stage a group of friends and colleagues as a separatist community. Meanwhile, Smith’s project imagines a hundred undiscovered bands and collaborates with other artists to compile album covers and tracks for each one. For both DeVun and Smith, the fictive communities presented in the gallery are a mechanism for participation within actual communities.
In this sense, imagined communities (the future Mexico City or Austin, DeVun’s separatist lesbian commune, Smith’s undiscovered bands) help to create or strengthen lived communities. Imagining community can actualize community, and actual communities can thrive on their imaginary counterparts. Perhaps the work DeVun and Smith have done through their respective projects is not unlike the work of an editor. Through …might be good, I have attempted to construct an imagined community that bears a mutually reinforcing relationship with the actual art community in Austin and Texas.
This train of thought is partly inspired by my impending departure from Fluent~Collaborative and Austin. This, …might be good’s 150th, is the penultimate issue I will edit. Our next two issues will be guest edited by two regular …might be good writers, Dan Boehl followed by Allison Myers, and Issue 153 at the end of July will be my last. The journal will then take a summer vacation through the end of August and reappear in your inboxes under the guidance of a new editor next fall.
Claire Ruud is Associate Director of Fluent~Collaborative.