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Textbase is a collective of writers and artists in Melbourne, Australia that have been producing collaborative artworks in text and visual arts since 1996. The group has been advancing an avant-garde poetics and art practice since its inception. In 1998 Textbase ventured into small press publishing producing a process-based journal. Since then, Textbase members have produced a number of short collections of verse and concrete poetry.
In reviewing Louis Armand's malice in wonderland, published by Textbase in 2003, Michael Aitken observed that
When first faced with the saturating degree of obscure references and willful difficulty these texts embrace, it is tempting to dismiss the author as unnecessarily pretentious and to declare that an audience who delights in this comprise: (A) those who think anything difficult, vague or pointless is 'avant garde', and are therefore only disappointed by art they can understand; (B) people who assume someone else knows what it means, therefore they themselves are deficient for failing to do so; (C) the author himself; (D) the author's close associates to whom he may be able to explain the point of some elements in person (and outside the text).
But that would be selling all this hard work short.
In 2004, Textbase published two very different books from two of its long-standing members, DJ Huppatz and Sebastian Gurciullo.
Gurciullo's book, as the title suggests, pushed poetry to the margin, experimenting along the line margin that divides the canonical and the obscure, what sets a group of words apart as poetic, composition from random selection and whether this experiment itself sits inside or outside the margin of poetry. As Tim Wright observed in his review of the book
Another margin played upon is the distinction between an art object and the book. The pieces in Marginal Text could well have been presented in a gallery or an art book or in a digital format of some kind (and indeed earlier incarnations of the project were published in Textbase's online journal). The design aesthetic of the book is clean and minimal. My personal wish is that there could have been more grit - some supporting notes or addenda to give the work some air and lessen the distance between it and the reader. However that coolness and opacity is also, in a way, what makes it a lasting piece of work.
In regard to Huppatz's book, Wright praised this work of poetry at the intersection of English with the language of global consumer culture by remarking that
the poems are light and measured and often hauntingly beautiful. They 'burn politely' as the preface tells us. Perhaps children's paintings are a good analogy: they are vivid and wonderfully strange.
In a world driven by commercial interests, propaganda and self-promotion, Textbase is a machine that explores processes, experiments with difference, unravels itself in theoretical possibilities...
- Michael Aitken, review of [malice in wonderland]http://www.cordite.org.au/archives/000880.html in [Cordite]http://www.cordite.org.au/ posted 21 March 2005
- Tim Wright, review of [Marginal Text]http://www.cordite.org.au/archives/000896.html in [Cordite]http://www.cordite.org.au/ posted 3 April 2005
- Tim Wright, review of [Book of Poem!]http://www.cordite.org.au/archives/000896.html in [Cordite]http://www.cordite.org.au/ posted 3 April 2005
- 1st Floor Artists and Writers Space (2000). Good Thinking: Words and pictures on contemporary Melbourne art. Melbourne: 1st Floor Artists and Writers Space. ISBN 0-646-39121-6.
- Armand, Louis (ed.) (2007). Contemporary Poetics. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press. ISBN 978-0-8101-2360-1.