The business of presence


This business of presence is essential to all live performance, whether the players are musicians vigorously bowing and putting their arm and shoulder into it, or banging or blowing, or dancers leaping or holding themselves precariously balanced and still, or actors, or acrobats, or singers using their breath to create sounds that are almost miraculously the shape of emotions. Because all these performers are using the body – a body just like our own – at its highest pitch of possibility and skill, we too, as we identify with their effort, are made aware, and in a unique way, of what the body actually is, and this is essential to the sense we get of our own body, the exhilarations we feel, the rush of energy we get as the soprano reaches for her high note or the acrobat goes flying across space and catches the bar.

– David Malouf, ‘Shared response to our humanity

David Malouf attended a recent meeting of major performing arts artistic directors to discuss the proposed national cultural policy. This essay is his response to that discussion.

David Malouf on Jeffery Smart: A Conversation

We have a new Events page on the site which will list upcoming literary events. You can subscribe to the calendar for this but every now and then we feel compelled to draw your attention to something we are looking forward to.

This Friday David Malouf will be speaking with artist Jeffrey Smart. Malouf will talk of his friendship with the artist and discuss the artist’s work in conversation with Mark Ledbury, Power Professor of Art History and Visual Culture, Director of the Power Institute and curator of the new exhibition Jeffrey Smart: Unspoken.

In 1980 Jeffrey Smart painted a portrait of Malouf. There is also a study that was made in this process. Both paintings feature the word OVIDIO which is a reference to the poet Ovid whose exile inspired An Imaginary Life, Malouf’s 1978 novella.

Smart also painted Germaine Greer, Margaret Olley, and Clive James.

The exhibition Jeffrey Smart: Unspoken runs from October 2nd to November 27, 2011.