GOfish4 – Launch Speech

When I was younger I began writing a series of poems with ‘Love’ as the title and inspiration: Love number 1, Love number 2, Love number 3.... The series was obstinately sequential and hard to break. Even when it became clear that Love number 1 was not really the first poem about love I’d written, nor even a poem about my first love, and I then realised that all of the other numbered titles were also somewhat arbitrary… Even then I just had to continue on in a numbered vein and I did.

You see I wanted to catalogue the varieties of love in the world, and in me. I wanted to explore the concept. There was a poem about a girl from primary school who would turn her head upside down to brush her hair. A poem about carving your initials into a tree linked to the initials of someone who wanted nothing to do with you. Poems about people I observed on the street – many people, people who seemed deeply and wonderfully in love. Poems about my own deep and dark loneliness.

I can’t remember how many loves I wrote. Eventually I did cease writing the loves. I thought I should move on.

But perusing this latest issue of GoFish, issue number 4 that we’re here to launch this evening, an issue with the theme of ‘Love’, it brought it all back to me. The reasons and motivation for that past project, that type of endeavour in general. Love is this most simple and complex of things and these simple/complex things are the types of things we seek to present and represent creatively. I can give you examples of Love, I can talk to you of the specific ways I am in love, but it doesn’t mean you’ll know anything more about it... and that’s frustrating and tantalising at the same time.  Love isn’t a simple evolutionary gambit: when I fell in love with my wife it wasn’t simply because of her shapely hips, something that would make her ideally suited for bearing children. There is that, of course, but it wasn’t just that. And love isn’t an emotional bond either that grows, matures, strengthens. Maybe it is. I don’t know. It’s a fickle unpredictable thing. Kenneth Slessor once wrote a poem cataloguing all the ways he loved his wife. And even within that very moving and sincere piece, we get the line ‘Sometimes I don’t like you at all.’

Love is a continuing obsession for us. It is important and prevalent yet, as Michael writes in his editorial, it is so hard to define or understand. This is exactly what I get from GoFish 4 and it’s exactly why I like the book and commend it to you. The images and works of writing within trace the arc of an emotion that transcends geographical, historical and cultural boundaries. The project is ably served by the editor’s method of collection, or of curating, a method I understand from my own previous publishing ventures and approve of: local artists and practitioners are given prominent space in a quality publication, alongside artists from across the nation and the world. In this way the local artists are placed as equals, as contemporaries, a placement they deserve.

The works within GoFish4 caught my attention and continue to scroll, zoom, link up and bookmark in my mind. We are greeted with hyper-real plasticised images of perfection; photographic moments suggesting states of shared intimacy and the tonal variety this can still entail, still. There are boldly stylised reinterpretations of common phrases, or physical acts -  like ‘you ripped my heart out’, or ‘I want you’; and the initial acts of romantic love, the embrace, the kiss. There are images and words that bring us something new, and excite us in the way only new love can; there are also works that are or seem familiar and remind us of what has already been, or what is already in us right now.

Of course there is a lot more within the volume than I can list right now – The ‘loves’ explored are not simply physically romantic but are also familial, spiritual, and ritualistic. And I’m not going to isolate individual works as it doesn’t seem fair. The real achievement of this publication is, I think, the fact that as the idea of Love is traversed, explored, observed or ripped apart, so many artistic forms are presented without any real disjunction – photography, painting, graphic design, writing, and hybrid works that occupy ground in between forms – all of these function well when placed together as they are, and there is a thematic flow to the book that makes it a real pleasure to look through, cover to cover.

There isn’t a lot more I need to say. Michael Agzarian and all of the artists involved have done a great job on GoFish4. I have a running joke with a friend of mine – when one of us has met someone new, a writer we’ve both heard of for instance, we describe them to the other as ‘lovely’. ‘Oh, she’s lovely!’. I think the joke is about ‘networking’ and the way we are all hyper-aware of forging connections, and that it is simply common-sense to describe a fellow creative-type as ‘lovely’, at least initially… Well, I just wanted to make you aware that here tonight I am not speaking jokingly in this final sentence. I can say, without reservation, with more sincerity than I would normally employ, that GoFish4 is ‘lovely’.

Dr Derek Motion

14 February 2012

GOfish4   is all about love

GOfish 4 has Love as the theme. We have all experienced love first hand, given and returned. Yet, it remains difficult or even awkward to express either in words, deeds or actions. As the ancients realised, the truth is; there is no common denominator, no minimum standard, no rule of thumb. What works for one may not work for another. There are no certainties and it is this diversity that we have tried to reflect in this issue.

Over fifty artists from at least sixteen different countries appearing together in one journal of human expression. This is a mosaic of amorous emotion, passion, desire and love. The love for another person, animal or even an object, the love of a place, unrequited love. Enjoy.

Michael, Derek and Missy at the launch.