Harbinger Consultants

Culture + Complexity + Change

PROJECT | Placing

By Linda Carroli

Over a year ago, I was winding up my work on Wordings, a body of cultural writing exploring the rubbing of text and image in various contemporary writing and visual art practices. The essays evolved around the interplay of ‘art writing’ and ‘writing art’, while considering the emergence of text-based practices as ‘wordings’. It was about what we do with and to words as well as what words do in various media and forms. Indeed, how various media can simply overwhelm the word and writing (books being the obvious example). The essays arising from the Australia Council’s VAB funded project have all been published or presented and I have had the intention of somehow collecting the texts as a body of work. That may yet happen, but there are obstacles for art writing and publishing in this country.

The last essay I completed for that project, ‘Placemarking – something happened here’, was published in The Material Poem, an anthology edited by James Stuart. It interrogated the incidence (or incidents) of text-based public art (by Sebastian Moody, Richard Tipping and Paul Carter) as material inscriptions upon and of the world, not just the page or the screen. The texts occupied space like a kind of placemarking or place writing. This essay formed a point of departure to establish a new line of inquiry that has been brewing for a while.

Placing is an emerging body of cultural writing, projects and interrogation that will transverse place, placemarking, place writing and writing place. Theorist Jane Rendell engages the idea of site writing, interleaving the word with site and architecture. In much the same way that Wordings considered, through various situations and encounters, practices of words, Placing considers practices of place. However, placing is not only about practices of place but also about practices of writing place. Like writing, ‘wording’ and drawing, it is intended as a both a noun and a verb – a thing and an action. Also like ‘wording’, placing is something we are often precise or careful about. To place something carelessly or thoughtlessly (even a word) is to misplace it or displace something else. Then, can we speak of place without considering position? Or … disposition?

It is an attempt to somehow map alternate routes across and through the prevailing discourses of place. Writing makes maps, tracing outlines and contours. In the manner of Wordings, these texts are partial and incomplete, connected to thought in that nomadic way, the idea of just passing through, a chronicle or a narralogue. I love writing like that, broken and somehow just left hanging …


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