Letter From the Editor, Issue 21

Publisher and Editor-in-Chief Katarina Kroslakova discusses how the theme of “Performance” is reflected in the pages of our new issue.

Article by Katarina Kroslakova

Katarina KroslakovaKatarina Kroslakova. Photography by Pierre Toussaint.

There’s a lot written about “craft” these days as, rightly, we celebrate hard-earned skill, whether it’s an exquisite handmade bag, the best croissant in town or a seven-year-old’s drum solo on TikTok.

The theory that 10,000 hours practice will bestow greatness has become a cliché. But in this, our Performance issue, we wanted to dig a little deeper into achievement — although there’s plenty of that on these pages — to focus on the moment when we pluck up the courage to push a privately honed skill into the spotlight, to be shared, enjoyed and, yes, judged by an audience.

When brainstorming the issue, the obvious reference point was the Paris Olympics, which kick off at the end of this month. Less obvious was our choice to focus on the sport making its debut at these games. Breaking (aka breakdancing) originated at block parties in 1970s New York and combines dance, athleticism and attitude like nothing else.

On page 18, we profile the two Australian breakers — a teenagerand a thirty-something professor; yes, really — who will represent the nation. “I love battling,” says Rachael Gunn, aka B-girl Raygun,“ because the feeling you get when you’re up there, when you step out on the dance floor and show everyone what you’ve got, it’s electrifying.” Is there a better description of the knife-edge of performance?

In late September 2019, a singer named Jaten Dimsdale finished his shift at a diner in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, went home and posted a video to YouTube of himself singing Michael Jackson’s “Rock WithYou” to mark the 10th anniversary of Jackson’s death. Dimsdale, whom you’ll better know by his stage name, TeddySwims, woke up the next morning to find a large chunk of the internet going wild over his soulful voice, kickstarting a career that this month lands him on these shores for his first ever arena tour of his solo material.

See page 30 for LanceRichardson’s interview, in which Swims likens performance to a state of unburdening, and the stage to his lounge room: “And Ialways say that, in my living room, I walk around buttnaked,” he says. “If you don’t want to come see me butt naked—figuratively, of course — then don’t come to my show. It’s a place where I’m just allowed to be vulnerable.”

Breaker Rachael Gunn will represent Australia in Paris at the Olympic Games.

You’ll also read about a performance, at the final of a global cocktail competition in Moscow’s Petroff Palace, that shaped the career of our food and drinks writer, Fred Siggins. As he writes on page 29, a win at a comp like this is a pivotal moment in a bartender’s life, and on the drinking culture at large.

What’s the fashion message of performance? Our cover star, the dancer, creative director, photographer, wellness influencer and model Mimi Elashiry, showcases designs that prioritise fluidity of movement (page 60). These are clothes for women of action.

Mention “performance” and, for some, their mind goes straight to performance cars. BMW’s Art Car project, which began in 1975 and is now onto its 20th artist-customised racing car, asks what happens when precision engineering meets art-making. As you’ll see with Julie Mehretu’s“rolling sculpture” for 2024, an M Hybrid V8 she meticulously covered with her abstract artwork (page 26), the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.The car’s unveiling was a major event, and Mehretu is using that momentum to literally createspace for emerging artists across Africa.

With luck, and time, we can expect many more great performances.

Katarina Kroslakova — Publisher, Editor-in-Chief

A version of this article appears in print in our current edition, on sale now at Coles and in newsagents and online via our T Australia Shop.