What is the Present Tense book about?
Present Tense is a collection of essays by some of the UK’s most exciting writers, commenting on tensions in the fields of art and culture. It takes as a starting point the celebrations in 2018 that marked a decade of Liverpool’s status as European Capital of Culture. We asked six writers to reflect on the ten years, while not being tied to the past.
Present Tense asks:
- What do we define as the culture around us? Who are the stakeholders? Who chooses?
- What does it mean when an artwork is repeatedly and violently destroyed, especially if that artwork is about the global refugee crisis?
- How does a city like Liverpool understand, and make peace with, a European Capital of Culture award during Brexit negotiations?
- What becomes of ambitious outdoor sculpture that, years after being commissioned, is unloved and neglected?
- What are the consequences of a cultural award on individuals: the people that imagine, make and deliver that ‘culture’?
These essays have something to say about now and the future, while not forgetting what has come before, and what can be learned. This is Present Tense, a book from The Double Negative, and we’d love you to support it.
Featuring new writing from Stephanie Bailey, Oliver Basciano, Jacob Bolton, Denise Courcoux, Mike Pinnington, Laura Robertson, Ellen Mara De Wachter and Eleanor Wiseman – produced under The Double Negative Fellowship 2018-19.
Talking about artists, collectives and venues including The Bluecoat, Between the Borders, Mohammad Bourouissa, Camp and Furnace, Banu Cennetoğlu, FACT, Barbara Hepworth, Homotopia, The Kazimier, Liverpool Biennial, Manifesta Biennial, MODEL Liverpool, OUTPUT Gallery, Queen of The Track, ROOT-ed, The Royal Standard, Tate and Tate Collective, Wu Tsang, John Walter and Richard Wilson.
We mainly publish online… So why do we care about printing a book?
Printing books can be expensive. But as a predominantly online magazine, it’s really important to us that we:
- Get new writing into new hands
- Complement what we already publish online with high quality print
- Make something tangible that can be read again and again
- Give our writers an extra printed outlet for their work that they can share with family, friends, peers and YOU, the reader.
We have already commissioned all of the new writing in Present Tense (thanks Arts Council England!). But instead of simply publishing the texts online at thedoublenegative.co.uk, we would LOVE to print them all in a book – stories you can hold in your hand and keep forever.
Why support Present Tense?
Since the very start, The Double Negative has commissioned, published, edited and shared skills with the next generation of arts writers. Over the past several years, we’ve worked with hundreds of writers across the UK and Europe, publishing them online and in our first book, On Being Curious: New Critical Writing on Contemporary Art From the North-West of England. We give clear and constructive editorial feedback; connect writers with other publications and networks; and provide writing classes and critical writing bursaries. We’re always teaming up with like-minded organisations to make this happen, as the latter two are often only achievable with the financial and logistical help of other partners.
It's difficult running The Double Negative with only two people at the helm, but we have a lot of friends who believe in what we do and are keen to collaborate! Preordering your copy of Present Tense will help us to continue nurturing new critical voices.
Why did The Double Negative Fellowship commission the essays?
All the new writing in this new book has been commissioned under The Double Negative Fellowship 2018-19: a mentoring programme for three, Liverpool-based writers. Jacob Bolton, Denise Courcoux and Eleanor Wiseman were encouraged, challenged and championed by mentors at the top of their game – ArtReview International Editor and Turner Prize Juror Oliver Basciano, Ocula Editor-in-Chief Stephanie Bailey, and writer and curator Ellen Mara De Wachter. Our other mentor, Frieze magazine's Editorial Director Jennifer Higgie, has been giving us gold standard advice from the very start – she even led a writing bootcamp for us and twenty other writers last year!
The Fellowship was only made possible through funding from Arts Council England, alongside financial and in-kind support from CreArt (Network of Cities for Artistic Creation), Culture Liverpool, Contemporary Visual Arts Network North West (CVAN NW), Heart of Glass, History of Art at Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool Biennial, and the University of Salford Art Collection.
Aside from being excellent critical and reflective essays on Liverpool's art scene, they have also served as a part of the mentoring (and learning) process for our mentees; discussed and critiqued by the mentors from initial idea to final draft.
We don’t have production costs covered for a printed book, so that’s why we’re using Kickstarter; to crowdfund Present Tense and make it something that the community has endorsed. We think that new writing deserves to be published – we can all relate to the ideas in this book – so we really would love your help to make Present Tense a reality.
Who are we?
The Double Negative is an online art, design, film and music magazine, established in 2011.
The Double Negative was conceived and co-founded in a post-Capital of Culture Liverpool, UK, by then culture journalist Mike Pinnington and artist/curator Laura Robertson.
Liverpool, it seemed, had attained a level of creative maturity – across various disciplines – that meant its output deserved increased levels of comment and criticism. Indeed, it needed those things. The Double Negative was a reaction: a means of analysing what we loved (and what we thought could be better) in contemporary arts, design, film and music. We especially wanted to highlight artists, projects and venues that were flying under the radar in Liverpool and more widely across the North of England.
Now, we’ve grown our ranks to more than 500 contributors based all over the UK and across the world, and we write for the world’s top arts and culture publications — including ArtReview, Frieze, Art Monthly, Elephant, Hyperallergic, The Art Newspaper, a-n, Art Quarterly, the Guardian, Tate Online and more.
However, our aim is the same: to tell the stories that matter most to us. We have a particular investment in encouraging and developing the next generation of art writers. We believe it is incredibly important to offer platforms for fearless, well-researched and balanced criticism, which represents a wide range of voices, subjects and stories.
Stephanie Bailey is Ocula Editor-in-Chief, a contributing editor to ART PAPERS and LEAP, and the current curator of Conversations at Art Basel in Hong Kong. A member of the Naked Punch editorial committee and managing editor of Podium, the online journal for M+ Museum in Hong Kong, she also writes regularly for Artforum International, Yishu Journal of Contemporary Chinese Art, and D’ivan, A Journal of Accounts. From 2012 to 2017, she was managing editor and senior editor of Ibraaz.
Oliver Basciano is a writer and critic based in London. He is International Editor at ArtReview and contributes to the news, arts and obituary desks of the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph. His writing has appeared in the Calvert Journal, Spike Art Quarterly, Building Design, Architects’ Journal, Wallpaper, as well as numerous artist's monographs, and he has contributed to BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, The Last Word and From Our Own Correspondent. He was a juror for the 2018 Turner Prize.
Jacob Bolton writes, designs, and makes art. His writing has appeared in ArtReview, Eye on Design and Corridor8, and his visual work has been featured in Brighton Photo Fringe. He is especially interested in on- and offline spaces and how they work together, power dynamics on the internet, and urban infrastructure.
Denise Courcoux is a writer from Coventry, based in Merseyside, UK. She has been published online by The Double Negative, Corridor8 and The University of Manchester's Institute for Cultural Practices. Her interests include issues of class and representation, popular culture in visual art and artist-curators. She has an MA in Art Gallery and Museum Studies, and won Axisweb's MA Curated Selection prize in 2014. She has worked in various museums and galleries in the North West.
Mike Pinnington is a writer based in Liverpool and the co-founder and full-time editor of The Double Negative. He has been published most recently by Art Quarterly, Art Review, Ocula and byNWR. From 2013-2018 he held the role of Content Editor at Tate Liverpool, working with the exhibitions and communications teams to deliver interpretation across the galleries, web content, and an in-house zine, Compass.
Laura Robertson is a writer based in Liverpool and London, and the co-founder and contributing editor at The Double Negative online magazine. She has been published in international magazines Frieze, Elephant, Hyperallergic, Art Monthly, ArtReview and a-n amongst others; is a is currently the critical writer-in-residence at Open Eye Gallery, alongside studying MA Writing at the Royal College of Art (2018-20). She is a former director of The Royal Standard Gallery & Studios.
Ellen Mara De Wachter is a writer and curator based in London, and has worked at arts organisations including the British Museum, Barbican Art Gallery and Contemporary Art Society. She is a frequent contributor to publications including Frieze magazine, Art Monthly and Art Quarterly as well as exhibition catalogues. Her book Co-Art: Artists on Creative Collaboration, published by Phaidon, explores the phenomenon of collaboration in the visual arts and its potential in society at large. She is an Associate Lecturer in Culture, Criticism and Curating at Central Saint Martins.
Eleanor Wiseman is a freelance writer, zinester, and single mama who relocated to Glasgow in 2019 after five years in Liverpool. She is a History of Art graduate and the creator of Grrrls In Their Underwear Zine. She has particular interests in the intersection of grass-root movements, body politics, and independent publishing. Her reviews have been published in Ocula and The Double Negative, while her poetry has been featured in Little Red Tarot, Fist Zine, as well as her own self-published chapbook.
What’s our plan and budget?
We need to raise £4730 in order to make the best book that we can! A limited edition book that is well-edited, well-designed, enjoyable to read, and pays everyone involved fairly. We're very well prepared:
- our long-term collaborator and friend, Mike Carney, is the designer of Present Tense. You've already witnessed the book's attitude from his bold visuals, above! Mike has been designing books, brochures, catalogues, newspapers, magazines, identities and logos for over twenty years. He worked with us on The Double Negative's visual concept, as well as our first in-house book, On Being Curious. He's amazing.
- we (Laura and Mike) have eighteen years experience between us in commissioning and editing writers, and writing articles for national and international magazines (print and online), culture guides, catalogue essays, gallery/museum interpretation and directly for artists. Meeting deadlines and copy editing (to a very high standard) are two of the things we do best.
We’re very confident that we’ll be able to deliver Present Tense if we can crowdfund the following:
- Printing costs (x 250 A5 books) = 37%
- Design fee = 32%
- Copyediting = 21%
- Kickstarter and payment fees = 10%
- Writers’ fees (got it covered) = 0%.
Any contribution you can make that will help us to reach our target would mean bringing this great collection of writing to life! Your support really is appreciated.
New to Kickstarter? How this all works
Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing. No one will be charged for a pledge towards Present Tense unless it reaches its funding goal. This way, we'll have the budget scoped out before moving forward. No one will be charged for a pledge unless Present Tense reaches its funding goal in 30 days time. If we don't reach our goal by the end of the campaign date, you won't be charged, and Present Tense won't happen... If we DO reach our goal (like we hope to!), everyone gets their books, rewards and the project comes to life.
We are shipping Present Tense worldwide! The Double Negative has international readers – from our core demographic in the British Isles, to LA to Berlin to Sydney – that we know are interested in contemporary art, culture and Liverpool. We don’t want anyone to miss out.
Select your reward option and your location, and Kickstarter will automatically calculate the shipping for you.
We’ve using tried and tested shipping methods (Signed For® 2nd Class, UK, and International Tracked & Signed) to make sure you receive your book securely and on time. Present Tense and special Kickstarter rewards will ship during August 2019.
Risks and challenges
Risks and challenges
We learned a lot from publishing our first in-house book, On Being Curious – in particular, about logistics and distribution. Not to mention that we (Laura and Mike) have have eighteen years experience between us in commissioning and editing writers, and writing articles for national and international magazines (print and online), culture guides, catalogue essays, gallery/museum interpretation and directly for artists. Meeting deadlines and copy editing (to a very high standard) are two of the things we do best. We’re very confident that we’ll be able to overcome any potential problems, and deliver on books and rewards. Your support really is appreciated.
- (30 days)