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Care Package 2024.02.26

Full title: "Care Package ("say it again--he doesn't understand")"
Acrylic, pigment and plant-based binder on wood panel, cardboard and paper fragments, twine
27cm W x 47cm H

Exhibited as part of "Counteractions" 7 - 17 March 2024, The Creator Incubator, Newcastle
A group show of Hunter-based women for International Women's Day 2024

Artwork statement:
This is a temporary assemblage of different objects from my studio. I’ve combined them together to explore the vagaries of perceived value between an item intended as an art object (such as a resolved painting) versus an item that has unintentionally accumulated paint by being present in the art making process (such as a scrap of paper or a cardboard palette used as a surface to mix, discharge or soak up excess paint). In my practice all these items are valuable to me, as all have absorbed the same materials and are viscerally embedded with the “labour and lifetime” of our reiterative engagement through the art making process.

I have temporarily bound these items together with woven twine, in a similar fashion to how one might package a gift. The recipient of my intended care here however, is not another person but the items themselves. By temporarily arranging these items into new configurations, such as assemblages and installations I enact my desire to continue to spend time with these objects, to tend to our shared narrative of experience and to challenge whether such materials need to be “used up” in the creative process in order to make something new.

In a world where humans exploit and over consume most things - yet habitually undervalue them - my counteraction to these superficial and extractive ways of engaging with the world is to begin to orient my practice away from the ongoing consumption of new materials sourced elsewhere toward a considered approach of engaging with, and looking after what I already have.

Such work is primarily about prioritising the maintenance of relationships and about considering how I relate to what is present with me in the world. I consider this a form of emotional labour, work historically ascribed to women. Artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles observed this gendered divide of labour in 1969 when she wrote her manifesto on Maintenance Art titled “Care” (from which I have borrowed the quote “say it again–he doesn’t understand”). Emotional labour should not be determined by gender, though perhaps dominant cultural expectations and the exploitative norms of capitalist and patriarchal society make it so.

Item duration:

Object or Array:

26 Feb 2024 - current

Object, Array

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