un Magazine has been published in Melbourne since 2004, making it the longest running art magazine in the city. At the time it was founded by artist Lily Hibberd there were no other local publications covering the wealth of independent, contemporary art practice happening in Melbourne. In the founding editorial, Lily wrote about un Magazine as a tribute to the talent and dedication of Australian artists. She outlined a mission to ‘provide a discourse for work that is not normally reviewed’ and for ‘emerging and established writers to publish unpredictable articles and to create an archive for our time.’
Nearly ten years on, and with our 19th issue currently in production, un Magazine has stayed true to those aims. Moving to an annually-appointed editor model since 2008, the magazine has given voice to hundreds of Melbourne writers and artists, and provided the kind of open platform for discussion and criticism that is vital to a thriving and serious art community. With a focus on artists, writers, artist-run initiatives and independent projects, un Magazine publishes essays, interviews, artists’ work and reviews, in print and online.
Fortunately, in 2013 un Magazine is no longer the only art rag in town. In recent years Melbourne has revelled in a surge in art writing and publishing that doesn’t look likely to stall any time soon. The journal Discipline has been a significant addition to local criticism, as have publishing ventures by The Narrows, 3-Ply, and Surpllus among others. Artist publications including Evergreen Terrace, Endless Lonely Planet; small press bookshops such as Perimeter, Motto and World Food Books; and online platforms Stamm, Gather and Fold, Excerpt, the West Space journal and numerous individual blogs, have all shown there is both a demand for and commitment to critical dialogue around contemporary art in Melbourne.
un Magazine is published in print and online, and distributed for FREE! While remaining independent – un Magazine is published by un Projects, a non-profit collective of artists, writers and editors – the magazine fundraises for support for each issue and is committed to paying fees to contributors. Each issue is inspired by and largely, created by, the grass roots communities of independent contemporary artists and writers in Melbourne.
To bring something of the community and energy around un Magazine into the exhibition space for Melbourne Now, we looked to the back issues of the magazine. Ten years of documenting and discussing contemporary art in Melbourne has created quite an archive to draw upon for a curatorial project. Taking inspiration and drawing content from the pages of the magazine, for Melbourne Now we will present un Retrospective – a selective history of art and writing in Melbourne since 2004. By exhibiting artworks that have featured in the magazine alongside the original correlating pages of review, essay or interview, un Retrospective will highlight the relationships between criticism and practice, writers and artists, that have been fostered in the publication. Melbourne Now comes at a good time to celebrate all the artists, writers, curators, galleries and artworks that have been documented and discussed in un Magazine.