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Review: This Is Not Art

TINA is an annual literary and cultural festival held in Newcastle over the October long weekend. It includes the sub-festivals the Crack Theatre Festival dedicated to experimental, fringe, cross-art form theatre and performance; the creative research symposium Critical Animals; the experimental electronic arts and culture festival Electrofringe; and the National Young Writers’ Festival for those involved in both new and traditional forms of writing. This year, the Tharunka Editorial team headed up to Newcastle from September 29 to October 3 to hang out with other student media editors, formally take part in National Young Writers’ Festival events and engage with the wider Australian cultural scene.

On Thursday we took part in a seminar entitled “Sorry, Paper: It’s Just Not Working Out” where the future of print media, particularly in relation to student magazines and niche publications was discussed. In a post VSU context the consensus reached was that although the print runs of student magazines may have decreased, student media is here to stay due to its important historical and cultural place in campus life. However, hard copies are increasingly augmented by digital versions of student magazines or additional revenue gained through advertising. In terms of niche publications, the plurality of the Australian media has been somewhat compromised with several of the young journalists who participated having commented that their magazines have had to markedly cut back or eliminate their print runs.

Subsequently, on Thursday and Friday Tharunka took part in the creation of a student media zine with the editors of Farrago from the University of Melbourne, Woroni from ANU and On Dit from the University of Adelaide. “Zine it All Before” was a monumental 52 page effort collating the best articles, fiction, poetry and imagery from our respective publications throughout the year. The longest spread was a four page sequence dedicated to “how to become a crazy cat lady” which seems to have been the editorial slant taken by a number of our counterparts throughout the year. Some humorous sections included Woroni’s satirical How to Vote Guide for Student Elections, tracing candidates through from “Young Liberal Party member with repressed homosexual tendencies” through to “rabid Socialist Alternative candidate;” and On Dit’s equally tongue in cheek Guide to Write Articles for a Student Publication, placing an imperative on either being a Arts Student or taking much longer to complete your degree than its nominal allocation. However the truest vindication of “Zine it All Before’s” quality must be the evaluation of it by a parent of an On Dit editor, “It reads like you all went out, got drunk, then came back and wrote strange articles.” Definite success!

Besides our involvement in these TINA events, the Tharunka editors were fortunate enough to attend workshops on writer-editor relationships featuring panelists from Voiceworks, Drum, Street Press and the Sunday-Courier Mail and a poetry writing event put on by the Voiceworks poetry editors. This provided participants with useful skills for practicing their writing more often such as writing tandems with friends and poetry collaborations where a piece is constructed among a group, with each writer contributing two lines to the evolving piece. Lastly, on Saturday we sat in on a discussion of the state of Australian TV featuring the ABC’s Dominic Knight and Laurence Leung. This so many sad contrasts being drawn between Australian comedies and dramas of previous decades with those lacklustre ones of previous years. Finally, Knight left the audience with the challenge of thinking of themselves not so much as consumers of Australian culture but potential creators of innovative and inspiring new ideas, as he and his colleagues did with “The Chaser’s War on Everything” following their involvement with underground media while at Sydney University. This seminar brought an end to TINA 2011, but as returning editors of Tharunka next year, Liz, Kylar and I look forward to a bigger and better event in Newcastle next year!