Higher Arc (Issue 3)

Now in its third issue, Higher Arc is an upscale, post-genre publication where text and image are set in intellectually stimulating play. As a curated object the magazine maintains a lovely subjective feel, capturing a subtle spirit of our time without being out-and-out zeitgeisty or obscure. It draws from an idiom of Australian writing and visual art – the publication obviously holds a strong connection to the Murray White Room, whose artists feature prominently – yet at the same time the sensibility is international, both in terms of its contributors and its aesthetic philosophy. Among other varied projects, Luke Brown, one half of the art direction and design team, hails from the short-lived yet wonderful Won Magazine. Like that publication, Higher Arc proves that the ephemeral world of the print magazine can still be a superb space to exhibit the visual arts. The David Homewood curated spread is an elegantly executed example of this – a standout of the issue.

For all its visual pleasures, the real payoff for this reader is the writing. Put plainly, there’s a lot of it, and it’s all very good. Too often text plays poor cousin to image in art journals dominated by negative space – it’s refreshing to see a reversal of that trend here. It’s also heartening to see space given to longer than usual interviews, and those of David Shields and Nicolas Provost are fine specimens of thoughtful dialogue.

This issue collects a high calibre of contributions, from Jeffrey Yang and Emma Lew’s poetry to Christa Wolf’s commendably translated fiction. Legendary Polish author Witold Gombrowicz is transposed into comic form by Chris Russell, and Christos Tsiolkas is included in a dreamy portmanteau on pornography. Edited by Mieke Chew and Will Heyward, Higher Arc examines the mysteries of knowledge and cultural production with an understated wit for context and maximal polish.

Lucy Van is a writer, academic and advocate based in Melbourne.