Research Statement for Dominic Amerena's short stories "Show Don't Tell" and "Tender and doomed"
NOTE: Dominic's story "Tender and doomed" is linked below.
Background: What does it mean to be a writer today, in a casualised, careerless world characterised by precarity? How do precarious writers imbricate ‘the real’ into the text, using artifice, mimesis to mediate, unpack and complicate their feelings about their real-world experience of precarious work? These pieces explore the emotional and existential cost of writers working in the gig economy, who are trained “to see their skills as transferable and abstract rather than particular and grounded” (Morgan and Nelligan 2018, 6). They explore the materiality of producing art, the role of the artist in relation to precarious work and living, and the ways that creative labour intersect with the labour conditions of the gig economy.
Significance: These short stories were conceived and composed in a process of practice-based research, in which insights and knowledge gained from the development of research into precarity fed back into my creative writing practice. The stories explore how characteristics which have traditionally been associated with artists – disruption, innovation, experimentation – have been harnessed by the post-Fordist economy, whereby “old notions of art and ‘the artistic’ are being replaced, even as they are absorbed, by the new concepts of creativity and creative industry” (Raunig and Wuggenig 2011, 1). In doing so, these stories gesture towards the generative potential for artists to interrogate and integrate precarity into their creative practice.
Contribution: ‘Show Don’t Tell’, won the biennial Alan Marshall Short Story Award, a writing prize administered by the Nillumbik Shire Council, which celebrates excellence in the art of short story writing. Over the course of its 35-year history, the prize has been won by several prominent writers, including: Helen Garner, Gillian Mears, Laura Jean McKay and Mark Smith. Judged by the novelists, Melanie Cheng and Sarah Schmidt, my story was selected from hundreds of submissions, and received a $5000 prize, as well as publication in the Nillumbik Prize Contemporary Writing Anthology 2020. ‘Tender and Doomed’ was commissioned for a special online edition of leading Australian literary journal Overland; it was included as support material in my successful submission to the Australia Council for the Arts, for which I received $21,000 to develop a full-length book manuscript.