Culture

Milk it: ‘First Cow’. Image from First Cow

Milk it: ‘First Cow’

Culture / Film

Kelly Reichardt’s restrained frontier film considers the uneasy problems of money and resources

The summer’s tale: On Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet. Image of book cover of Summer by Ali Smith

The summer’s tale: On Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet

Culture / Books

Addressing climate crisis and global pandemic, the concluding book in Ali Smith’s quartet reminds us that an ending is also a beginning

What are the odds?: Toby Ord’s ‘The Precipice’. Detail from the cover of ‘The Precipice’

What are the odds?: Toby Ord’s ‘The Precipice’

Culture / Books

The Australian philosopher’s rational exploration of existential risk is bracing but ultimately hopeful

Broadmeadows. Illustration by Jeff Fisher

Broadmeadows

Culture / Poems

Poetry from the author of ‘The Boat’


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America’s imperfect angels: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Hamilton’. Image from ‘Hamilton’

➊ America’s imperfect angels: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s ‘Hamilton’

Post Black Lives Matter, the hit musical already feels like a souvenir from a vanished pre-Trump America

Beyond imagination. Image of Svetlana Alexievich

➋ Beyond imagination

Nobel Prize–winning journalist Svetlana Alexievich brings together an extraordinarily diverse group of Russian voices

MIFF 68 ½ at home. Image from Day in the Life by Karrabing Film Collective

➌ MIFF 68 ½ at home

Films by Kelly Reichardt, Ulrike Ottinger, Ja’Tovia Gary and Djibril Diop Mambéty captivate, despite a radically different festival format

Searching for the truth in Yuendumu. Image of Yuendumu

➍ Searching for the truth in Yuendumu

Very little has been learnt from the death in custody on Palm Island

Books


Small, imperilled utopias: ‘Funny Weather’. Image of Olivia Laing’s book ‘Funny Weather’

Small, imperilled utopias: ‘Funny Weather’

Olivia Laing’s book takes hope as an organising principle, asking what art can do in a crisis

Shelf pity: ‘Rise & Shine’. Image of Patrick Allington's ‘Rise & Shine’

Shelf pity: ‘Rise & Shine’

Patrick Allington’s fable of a world in which perpetual war is staged to fuel compassion is too straightforward for its ambitions

‘Minor Detail’ by Adania Shibli (trans. Elisabeth Jaquette). ‘Minor Detail’ by Adania Shibli

‘Minor Detail’ by Adania Shibli (trans. Elisabeth Jaquette)

The Palestinian author’s haunting novel about an atrocity committed by Israeli soldiers in 1949

‘The Rain Heron’ by Robbie Arnott

An unsettling near-future tale of soldiers hunting a mythic bird by ‘the Tasmanian Wordsworth’

Tender trapped: ‘Smart Ovens for Lonely People’. Image of ‘Smart Ovens for Lonely People’ by Elizabeth Tan

Tender trapped: ‘Smart Ovens for Lonely People’

In Elizabeth Tan’s ebullient story collection, frustrated characters yearn for a grand cataclysm

Cold was the ground: ‘Sorry for Your Trouble’

Richard Ford delivers an elegant collection of stories of timeworn men and women contemplating the end


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Music


Fermata: Musical performance in lockdown. Image of Satu Vänskä, Australian Chamber Orchestra

Fermata: Musical performance in lockdown

What becomes of the communion of classical musicians, composers and audiences during social isolation?

The heat of a moment: Ziggy Ramo’s ‘Black Thoughts’. Image of Ziggy Ramo

The heat of a moment: Ziggy Ramo’s ‘Black Thoughts’

A debut hip-hop album that calls for a reckoning with Indigenous sovereignty and invites the listener to respond

Snap-back: Dua Lipa’s ‘Future Nostalgia’. Photograph of Dua Lipa

Snap-back: Dua Lipa’s ‘Future Nostalgia’

The British singer’s serendipitous album delivers shining pop with a reigning attitude of fortitude

Teen sensation. Image of audio cassettes arranged in rows and columns with cassette player

Teen sensation

In the midst of a pandemic, people are reverting to the music they loved – and found solace in – as teenagers

The ripple effect: Cable Ties’ ‘Far Enough’. Image of Cable Ties

The ripple effect: Cable Ties’ ‘Far Enough’

A big year turned on its head for the Melbourne band

Quiet life. Illustration by Jeff Fisher

Quiet life

The acoustic ecologists documenting our quieted world


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Film


Cutting her teeth. Shannon Murphy

Cutting her teeth

Darkly comic and unmistakably Australian, Shannon Murphy’s film ‘Babyteeth’ hits Australian screens on a wave of accolades

The many faces of David Gulpilil . David Gulpilil at the opening night of the Sydney Film Festival on June 8, 2016

The many faces of David Gulpilil

Gulpilil’s surrealist performances reveal our collective unconscious

The death of cool: Michel Piccoli, 1925–2020. Still from ‘Contempt’

The death of cool: Michel Piccoli, 1925–2020

Re-watching the films of the most successful screen actor of the 20th century

Belonging to no one: ‘Monos’. Image from Monos

Belonging to no one: ‘Monos’

Like its teenage guerilla protagonists, Alejandro Landes’s dreamy, violent feature film is marked by a purposeful ambiguity

Her too: ‘The Assistant’. Still from ‘The Assistant’

Her too: ‘The Assistant’

Melbourne-born, New York–based filmmaker Kitty Green’s powerfully underplayed portrait of Hollywood’s abusive culture

A bellyful: ‘The Trip to Greece’. Image of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon in The Trip to Greece

A bellyful: ‘The Trip to Greece’

Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon continue to charm in their final food odyssey


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Television


Pole position. Still from P-Valley

Pole position

Eschewing clichés and reflecting inclusiveness on both sides of the camera, ‘P-Valley’ tops this month’s streaming highlights

Sex, life: The fundamental queerness of ‘Vida’. Image of Mishel Prada and Melissa Barrera as sisters Emma and Lyn Hernandez in Vida

Sex, life: The fundamental queerness of ‘Vida’

Even the hetero sex is bent in Tanya Saracho’s steamy series

Within the earth’s archive: ‘Mystery Road’. Image of Aaron Pedersen as Jay Swan and Jada Alberts as Fran Davis in season two of Mystery Road

Within the earth’s archive: ‘Mystery Road’

Detective Jay Swan offers new possibilities for Australian screen culture

Deep cover: ‘The Bureau’. Image of Sara Giraudeau as Marina Loiseau in ‘The Bureau’

Deep cover: ‘The Bureau’

The fifth season of the understated French spy thriller leads the pack of June streaming highlights

In search of emes (truth) in ‘Unorthodox’. Image of a production still from the Netflix series ‘Unorthodox’

In search of emes (truth) in ‘Unorthodox’

The masterful Netflix series addresses the struggle to articulate female desire

A lot to be desired: ‘Normal People’. Normal People

A lot to be desired: ‘Normal People’

The screen adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel is a piercing portrayal of young lovers


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Art


The full postcolonial catastrophe: ‘Nirin’. Image of works in the Art Gallery of NSW

The full postcolonial catastrophe: ‘Nirin’

Intellectually ambitious, the Biennale of Sydney’s 2020 program is essential viewing

Grotesqueries: Adelaide Biennial 2020. Installation view: 2020 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Monster Theatres featuring Understudy by Abdul Abdullah, Art Gallery of South Australia; photo © Saul Steed

Grotesqueries: Adelaide Biennial 2020

Leigh Robb’s absorbing curation, ‘Monster Theatres’, is both artistically and politically coherent

‘Japanese Modernism’ . Image of Hisui Sugiura's colour lithograph The first subway in the East (1927)

‘Japanese Modernism’

The NGV’s virtual show is a playful celebration of Japan’s moga (modern girls) and mobo (modern boys), full of optimism for the future

Desert bloom: The Tennant Creek Brio . Photograph of Tennant Creek Brio artists by Jesse Marlow / Institute

Desert bloom: The Tennant Creek Brio

The brazen art movement born out of the troubled legacies of substance abuse and dispossession

Wildlife’s whispered traces: ‘Extinction Studies’. Image from ‘Extinction Studies’

Wildlife’s whispered traces: ‘Extinction Studies’

Lucienne Rickard’s durational art performance at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery reckons with extinct species

Stopped in the street: ‘Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines’. Untitled (Pollo Frito), 1982, by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Stopped in the street: ‘Keith Haring | Jean-Michel Basquiat: Crossing Lines’

Early death meant the work of these renowned artists never fully emerged from ’80s New York subcultures


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Theatre


Reimagining ‘Breaking the Waves’. Image from ‘Breaking the Waves’

Reimagining ‘Breaking the Waves’

The creators of this opera on how it adds new depths and agency to von Trier’s 1996 film

The Doctor’s dilemma. Image from ‘The Doctor’

The Doctor’s dilemma

Director Robert Icke on rewriting the classic Austrian play to explore contemporary moral conundrums

Celebrating beauty’s passing: ‘Requiem’. Image from ‘Requiem’

Celebrating beauty’s passing: ‘Requiem’

Italian director Romeo Castellucci on his radical reimagining of Mozart’s classic

A dream within a dream: ‘Tao of Glass’. Image of Philip Glass and Phelim McDermott composing ‘Tao of Glass’

A dream within a dream: ‘Tao of Glass’

Theatremaker Phelim McDermott on his highly personal collaboration with Philip Glass

‘Hecate’: honouring two storytelling traditions. Image of actors rehearsing ‘Hecate’

‘Hecate’: honouring two storytelling traditions

Australia’s first major Shakespearean production in Noongar language will retell ‘Macbeth’ at Perth Festival

Joan Didion’s eerily contemporary ‘The White Album’. Image of ‘Joan Didion’s “The White Album”’

Joan Didion’s eerily contemporary ‘The White Album’

The seminal essay’s ongoing resonance is explored in this interactive production coming to Sydney Festival


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Dance


A study in contrasts: ‘Trois Grandes Fugues’ and ‘Black Velvet’. Image of ‘Trois Grandes Fugues’ by Lyon Opera Ballet

A study in contrasts: ‘Trois Grandes Fugues’ and ‘Black Velvet’

These performances by the Lyon Opera Ballet and Shamel Pitts at the Adelaide Festival explore the body’s formidable potential

Form and content collide at Dance Massive . Nana Biluš Abaffy’s Post Reality Vision

Form and content collide at Dance Massive

Choreography meets politics at this contemporary dance festival

Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company is bringing light and shade to Australia. Image of Teatro alla Scala’s Frederic Olivieri, Nicoletta Manni and Timofej Adrijashenko

Teatro alla Scala Ballet Company is bringing light and shade to Australia

A conversation with members of the Italian company ahead of their tour to Brisbane

The mesmerising ‘Dark Emu’. Image from Bangarra Dance Theatre’s ‘Dark Emu’

The mesmerising ‘Dark Emu’

Bangarra’s latest production explores Aboriginal Australians’ sophisticated farming practices

Dance and the digital: An interview with Wayne McGregor. Tree of Codes

Dance and the digital: An interview with Wayne McGregor

The Sydney Festival-bound show’s choreographer loves mixing the body with technology

‘Bennelong’ by Bangarra Dance Theatre. Beau Dean Riley Smith in Bangarra Dance Theatre’s Bennelong

‘Bennelong’ by Bangarra Dance Theatre

Sydney Opera House (touring Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne)


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Architecture


Plans never imagined: Architect Timothy Hill. Image of Longhouse, Daylesford, Victoria

Plans never imagined: Architect Timothy Hill

The ‘Longhouse’ and the ‘Multihouse’ confirm the director of Partners Hill as the country’s most important and influential architect of the past 30 years

Two worlds at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale. Image of Australian pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale

Two worlds at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale

The consumption of space, land and habitat is Australia’s focus at the world’s pre-eminent architecture event

Walking the Wukalina Walk. Illustration

Walking the Wukalina Walk

A new four-day tour in Tasmania is owned and guided by Aboriginal people

This is not an opera house. Image of the Sydney Opera House

This is not an opera house

Beautiful on the outside … the tragedy of Bennelong Point

SOS. Illustration

SOS

Brutalist masterpiece or harbour eyesore? Sydney’s Sirius building faces an uncertain future

Murcutt’s mosque. Roof detail of the Australian Islamic Centre

Murcutt’s mosque

The Australian Islamic Centre is notable for what it isn’t as much as for what it is


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Fashion


Straight outta Narrandera. Illustration

Straight outta Narrandera

Victoria Lee takes on the Victoria’s Secret runway

The artisan. Tanel Bedrossiantz, in a dress from the Jean Paul Gaultier Barbès collection, ready-to-wear, Autumn–Winter 1984–85

The artisan

‘The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier’ at the National Gallery of Victoria

‘Modern Love: Fashion visionaries from the FIDM Museum LA’ . Sarah Caplan’s World Trade Center dress

RM Williams and haute couture

The iconic Australian brand has a new co-owner

Fashion masterpiece

Romance was born - ‘The Oracle’, 2011

Jewel of Melbourne. Illustration by Jeff Fisher


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Fiction


Unfinished business: A short story

Can a young wartime couple pick up where they left off?

‘Clade’ by James Bradley

Hamish Hamilton; $32.99

Sinkers

The pencil and the damage done. Self-portrait with Easel and Mirror (1646), by Johannes Gumpp

The pencil and the damage done

The perverse attraction of autobiographical fiction

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s ‘Boyhood Island’. Karl Ove Knausgaard

Karl Ove Knausgaard’s ‘Boyhood Island’

The third volume of the epic autobiographical novel ‘My Struggle’


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Poetry


Barron Field and the myth of terra nullius. Detail of a painting of Barron Field

Barron Field and the myth of terra nullius

How a minor poet made a major historical error

Late styles

Clive James’ ‘Sentenced to Life’ and Les Murray’s ‘Waiting for the Past’

Majesty and burning. The young Dylan Thomas

Majesty and burning

A century of Dylan Thomas

Wild Pilgrim. Ko Un, with his books

Wild Pilgrim

Meeting Ko Un

'Radar' by Kevin Brophy and Nathan Curnow. 'Radar' by Kevin Brophy and Nathan Curnow, Walleah Press; $25
At the Table by the Window. Peter Steele

At the Table by the Window

Peter Steele (1939–2012)


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