Looking for something to read over the cooler months? Read MCA Store’s winter reading list inspired by the MCA Staff Book Club and three of the authors who presented at the 2017 Sydney Writers’ Festival: Maxine Beneba Clarke, Chris Kraus and Heather Rose.
The Hate Race is a powerful, humorous and at times heartbreaking memoir about growing up black in white middle-class Australia. Hailing from Kellyville, celebrated poet and author Maxine Beneba Clarke paints a picture of suburban Sydney life in the 80s and 90s familiar to many. Family of five, three-bedder home, Ford Falcon. Hot summers, South Coast holidays and Vegemite on toast. Cassette tapes, catch-and-kiss and Cabbage Patch kids. This warm familiarity is contrasted against a picture less pretty of casual racism, overt bullying and exclusion, making this thoughtfully written novel a must-read for all Australians.
Also Recommended: My Place by Sally Morgan is an Australian classic, telling the story of three generations of Indigenous Australian women as artist Sally Morgan searches for the truth of her own identity.
Moving beyond the eye catching title of Chris Kraus’ cult classic, I Love Dick is widely revered as one of the most important feminist novels of recent decades and has been adapted for television by Jill Soloway of Transparent fame. So, does it live up to the hype? Well, it does include all the good stuff – sex, humour and nerdy art references. Blurring the line between fiction and memoir I Love Dick centres on an unsuccessful artist, controversially also named Chris Kraus. The artist becomes infatuated with an academic named Dick and enlists her husband’s help in gaining his attention. Together they develop a written correspondence with Dick, which at first reignites their marriage before things unravel, exploring themes of female desire, privacy, performance and the complexity of human relationships.
Also Recommended: The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt follows a frustrated artist, Harriet Burden, who hides her identity behind three male fronts, to great success and much unfolding drama.
A few years ago footage of artist Marina Abramović locking eyes with her former lover Ulay at the opening of her 2010 MoMA retrospective resurfaced on YouTube and went viral. The encounter formed part of her durational work, The Artist is Present, in which she occupied the gallery space for 8 hours a day and invited strangers to sit opposite her and look into her eyes. Several million sets of eyes have since watched this unlikely meeting of exes and The Artist is Present is arguably the most recognisable performance artwork of all time. The work also forms the inspiration for Australian writer Heather Rose’s 2017 Stella Prize winning work of fiction, The Museum of Modern Love. The book follows a film composer separated from his ailing wife, who is drawn to Abramović’s MoMA exhibit, and through his observations and those of the people around him poses questions concerning how we interpret and engage with art, life and of course love.
Also Recommended: When Marina Abramović Dies by James Westcott examines the extraordinary life and work of one of the most pioneering artists of her generation, Marina Abramović.
Previous post: Handfed: no cutlery required
Bridie manages inventory and online operations for MCA Store. A self-confessed book nerd, her personal library is full of fashion photography, feminist theory and trashy celebrity biographies. A practising visual and performing artist she is interested in representations of women in art and popular culture and is a passionate supporter of emerging local artists and designers.