un Projects publishes writing that emerges from art making, providing an independent platform for critical discussions about local artistic practice. With a focus on artists, writers and independent practice, un Projects publishes essays, artists’ work and reviews, in print and online. Their flagship publication is un Magazine which was founded in 2004 by Melbourne artist Lily Hibberd. un Projects was established in 2008 to ensure the ongoing publication of un Magazine and develop further art writing initiatives.
Un Projects have recently moved into Collingwood Yards as sub-tenants at West Space gallery. We spoke to General Manager, Audrey Pfiser about what’s coming up for un Projects.
Can you tell us more about un Projects and how it is operated?
We’re mostly known for our flagship print publication un Magazine which provides a platform for rigorous, exciting, and relevant art writing in diverse and innovative forms. We focus on conversations from local and national independent, emerging, and early-career practitioners and artist-run-organisations. We also have un Extended our online publishing platform, we run public programs including talks, workshops, and long-term development programs such as our KINGS Emerging Writers Program and Editors-in-Residence program.
un Projects operates with the help of many hands. There is the un Projects board on which Jeremy Eaton, Nur Shkembi, Erin Crouch, Bill Gilles, Amanda Haskard, Anusha Kenny, Melissa Ratliff, and Bianca Winataputri currently sit. There is me, Audrey, the General Manager who works part-time on un Projects.
We have our un Magazine yearly guest editors. At the moment we also are grateful to have Paul Boyé our un Extended Editorial Manager, and our two editors-in-residence. We have an editorial committee that helps with the selection process and offers their time as mentors for our writers. And yes, we have many, many writers and artists from all over the continent working in different modes and mediums, who all contribute their work to our platforms. Plus our subscribers and readers who keep us going!
What’s a recent un Magazine piece you enjoyed reading?
‘A Reminder’ by Tom Melick in Snack Syndicate’s issue 15.2 was incredibly beautiful. Melick starts with something small, the Ibis, colloquially known as the ‘bin chicken’. He begins with his observations of an Ibis in Sydney, where he writes from, and the history of their prevalence in the city. Melick then goes on to write about Ibis mummies he has seen in museums, he writes about Thoth, the ancient Egyptian Ibis God, and about the hieroglyph that uses an Ibis. The piece becomes this beautiful way of tracing something across time and place and studying it, and seeing what it tells us about a place now.
Who are the guest editors for the two issues of un Magazine in 2023?
This year we’re excited to have Boorloo-based practitioners Bahar Sayed and Gemma Weston directing volume 17 of un Magazine with their themes RESIST and RETURN.
Bahar Sayed is a freelance writer and curatorial assistant at The Art Gallery of Western Australia. Bahar’s background is in theological scholarship, art criticism, and film. Her practice enjoys exploring the links between disparate ideas, sometimes threading nuanced comparisons while other times desperately trying to find a connection. Her work has been featured in un Magazine, Fremantle Arts Centres, Runway Magazine, RunningDog, and West Space.
Gemma Weston is Exhibition Touring Manager at ART ON THE MOVE, Gallery Associate at sweet pea in Boorloo and an Editorial Advisory Committee member of un Magazine. Gemma’s writing has appeared in Doing Feminism: Women’s Art and Feminist Criticism in Australia (2022), Vivienne Binns: On and Through the Surface (2022), Agatha Gothe-Snape: The Outcome is Certain (2020), and in journals Artlink, un Magazine, Semaphore and Garland. Gemma’s curatorial and publishing work is informed by a background in artistic practice. She occasionally exhibits as Gemma Watson, or collectively with Dan Bourke and Andrew Varano as Pet Projects.
What programming do you have coming up?
On Saturday the 13th May 1-3pm we have un Talks: Artist-led Public Pedagogies: ‘care-taking’ in the arts, hosted by Nina Mulhall, Marnie Badham and Kelly Hussey-Smith who will discuss their collaborative essay being published in un Magazine 17.1 RESIST. Their text asks ‘What if we became ‘care-takers’ of art ecologies instead of gate-keepers of knowledge, art, education, artists?’ After the discussion, attendees will use creative mapping techniques to map the relational aspects of their practices as artists, writers, or workers. Concluding the event at 3pm we will be heading upstairs to the West Space Fundraiser exhibition for further chats and celebratory drinks!
After that we will be at the NGV Art Book Fair 19-21st of May, and at the end of May we will be hosting a reading group event in Boorloo, WA! We’ll have a lot of reviews going up online on un Extended over the coming months from our Editors-in-Residence, and we will be launch un Magazine 17.1 RESIST in July!
We have even more on the horizon coming up later this year, but you’ll have to stay tuned to find out more… next year un Projects turns 20 years old, so we’re starting to celebrate that with some exciting programming a little early!
What excites you about joining the community at Collingwood Yards?
Popping into Padre for a morning coffee and popping down into Hope St for an evening wine excites me! Haha. But, having a physical presence in the local arts community is important to un Projects. Being situated in Collingwood Yards allows the organisation to be part of this ecology more fluidly. Here we are physically among diverse arts organisations and artists which opens up opportunities for collaborations, mutual support, and conversations. This also means fun things like bumping into Collingwood Yards residents who are also un Magazine contributors also as Andy Butler. It means that we can build trusting relationships with Collingwood Yards and West Space (where we are currently housed) to collaborate on talks and readings. It means we can sell our wares (and store all our boxes of magazines!) and have a place where writers and readers can say hi.