If you like reading, you’re gonna (maybe) like this.
Optics, or, an introductory post-structuralist study on cognition and looking at your reflection while your ass is getting slapped: Vol. 1. (09/20)
FEEL SPECIAL: Where you are borders the margins. (03/20)
(REVIEW by Amelia Winata) Symposia: This show is dedicated to K-Pop girl group, TWICE. I love you. (03/20)
Symposia: On curating the self-reflexive, meta-didactic, hyper-aware, and perhaps, the irony within it. (11/19)
FANCY: A self contained symposium in 7 topics. (11/19)
(REVIEW) this mob. at West Space (09/19)
(REVIEW) Return Flight MEL > HKG at Blender Studios (for Memo Review) (08/19)
FEEL SPECIAL: Where you are borders the margins.
Artist statement for “Symposia: This show is dedicated to K-Pop girl group, TWICE. I love you.” at SEVENTH Gallery
To critique, interrogate, or challenge, implies a deeply embedded existence within the ecology one wishes to question. Cognitive. A critique of institution warrants a critique of the self. Dissonance.
Symposia is my debut music video as a critical arts practitioner: presenting to you the moral paradoxes of institutionalising a resistant artist. I never quite felt well-versed enough in the turbulent politics of contemporary art until I started dropping words like ‘ecology’ or ‘interrogate’ in casual conversations. Out of this dialectic, comes a forced harmony of ‘high’ and ‘low’ cultural production forms, all curated to perfection, or so it seems. It’s East vs. West, and I never quite felt a part of the broader Asian diaspora until I started listening to K-pop and drinking bubble tea.
I’m lactose intolerant.
Symposia: On curating the self-reflexive, meta-didactic, hyper-aware, and perhaps, the irony within it.
Essay presented for WRITING & CONCEPTS 2020 Lecture Series.
Recording of the lecture can be found here.
“The schools we go to are reflections of the society that created them. No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them.”
On the symposium.
I’ve found myself in countless situations as of late where I’m slumped in my chair, at an artist talk, or something of the sort, unable to comprehend words being hurled my way. ‘Jargon’ is what I’ve come to know this as. The symposium is where we find contemporary art at its most didactic point: it is a crucial component to formal exhibiting practices. You have people literally telling you what to think. The exhibition, in its form, functions with apparatus as primary objective. Apparatus, according to Giorgio Agamben, refers to the orienting, reinforcing, or controlling of social discourse. The symposium treads forward with this in mind. Increasingly so, the symposium has functioned as part of this apparatus to mitigate contemporary art’s detachedness from the ‘real’ world. Often using the opportunity of said event to speak to a broader cultural relevance beyond the work, calling out fallacies within, calling out fallacies outside. Symposia enacts a critical utility; if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard the words ‘destabilise,’ ‘challenge,’ or ‘subvert,’ at an art event, I’d probably … have $104 or so. I haven’t been to that many, however it is enough for me to slump in my chair, confused.
Bewildered by the radical critical thinking I saw in the likes of local figures such as Nayuka Gorrie, Andy Butler, Lara Chamas, to name a few, I never thought to ask how they were allowed to speak so freely against institutional structures. I have become increasingly concerned with what I understood to be this radical gesture: critiquing the institution, now undermined by institutions willing to house their ideas via the symposium: an extension of the exhibition. What does it mean to include self-reflexivity within the vertebrae of institution? What does it mean to ‘destabilise,’ ‘challenge,’ or ‘subvert,’ institutional values which we inevitably contribute to? What does ‘jargon’ mean, again?
On a categorical ‘IC’.
Bar the discussion of its formation and rise to popularity, (Andrea Fraser, Hans Haacke, Daniel Buren, etc.), institutional critique as a form of art production has seamlessly configured its way into institutions. Three decades after Buren’s In Situ (1971) was infamously removed from being showed at the Guggenheim for obstructing the vantage points of other works across the rotunda, comes Eye of the Storm: Works in situ by Daniel Buren. Ultimately, the brand of institutional critique as we know it is utterly dependent on the largesse of institutions to exist. Benjamin Buchloh lists the impulse for institutions to criticise itself from within as a key feature of Modernism. How does the Guggenheim reflect on its position as contemporary cultural producers? What is their apparatus?
Framing the Guggenheim as such, calls upon the nexus of institutional critique histories, where the shift occurred in locating the ‘institution’ beyond the physical site of the gallery, and rather, as a social field. Andrea Fraser locates Hans Haacke’s Condensation Cube as existing at this nexus of institutional critique. Seminal to the work of artists, including herself, working within the field of institutional critique, thinking of the movement in terms of locating a ‘social field’ calls for a wider consideration of the world beyond us. It shifts the Agambian apparatus to include a consideration for the systems in which we inhabit outside contemporary art. Broadening the scope of ‘institutional critique’ and yet zeroing in on its core aims for resistance.
In 2007, Adrian Piper moved to Berlin. Vowing to never return to America, she created a performance work upon her arrival, where she danced for an hour to a postmillennial house track in Berlin’s city center. She did not even return for her retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, in New York; the largest the institution has ever awarded to a living artist. Why does she refuse to return? Simply put, she was to be eternally disappointed with the issues she faced, marginalised in society, marginalised in her own community. Escaping to Berlin, despite the many successes she’s enjoyed in the States, as an act of defiance. Piper’s retrospective, A Synthesis of Intuitions, was a strong reflection of this defiance. Located in the Marron Atrium of the gallery is the access point and viewer’s initial encounter with her exhibition. Clinical, sanitary, and even quite jarring is What It’s Like, What It Is #3 (2019): a video installation where audiences enter a white room with tiered seating around the square perimeter of the space, LED lights patterning the ceilings, and a thin line of mirrors trailing the walls. A tall, plinth-like column in the centre of the room houses four video works on its four sides, showcasing African-American people negating a list of offensive stereotypes attached to them.
“I would like people to sit in the bleachers and think of where they are sitting as an amphitheatre of the sort that one would sit in and watch Christians being devoured by the lions.”
Piper’s installation is strongly reminiscent of a formal minimalism, from the sleek geometry and the gallery white throughout the structure, the room calls upon the critique of a system beyond racism. What allows Piper to transcend beyond these realms is the multi-faceted layers of her critical methodology. Known primarily as an artist who brought to light issues of identity, racial and gender inequality, my concern rather is on her resistance of minimalist pedagogy.
Placed horizontally parallel, to Piper’s installation, behind the wall in the next room, is Sol LeWitt’s Serial Project I (ABCD): a collection of steel enamel units laid out on an aluminium grid. Choreographing viewer movement through the space in a way that introduces Piper’s version of Minimalism as seminal to LeWitt’s, almost undermining his privileging of form over politics and expression. Minimalism, for lack of a better explanation, consisted of a bunch of white dudes wanting to be apolitical. Negating didactic utility in through their work, Minimalism operated on the methodology of an infallible formal logic, never hiding behind semiotics. You are presented with facts, and the fact of the matter is that what you are seeing, is in fact, just Pink out of a Corner, a Stack, or 144 Lead Square(s). Minimalism of the 1960s “…demand(ed) a personal and unadulterated aesthetic experience in art,” according to Eugene Goossen, which meant the exclusion of any symbolism, any messages, any personal exhibitionism.
Piper’s work resisted this very notion of an apolitical body of work, and she often felt frustrated with the movement’s unwillingness to be contextualised, and it was her growing frustration with how American institutions interfaced with her racialised body that inevitably pushed her to move to Germany. Piper’s amphitheatre is her Minimalist installation, and the lions devouring her Christians: the black experience she speaks of in her work, is the sleek and rigid formalism of the movement. Piper’s conceptualist practice is thus, contingent on a resistance, yet do we consider her to be working within the bounds of ‘institutional critique’? In all senses of the word, yes, Piper is ultimately launching a critique at the structures in place within the contemporary art sector. Yet semantically, no, historically we have come to categorise a movement so broad in its scope, Piper would not come up under the Tate’s ‘Institutional Critique’ page. Institutional critique, has become formal, comfortably exhibited in the Guggenheim, at the Geffen Contemporary, and the Tate Modern, to name a few examples. The notion of apparatus thus broadens in its scope to include self-reflexivity. Buchloh lists the institution’s aims of questioning its own institutionalism as another key feature of Modernity. My concern, however, is not in how resistance operates, it is in to what degree is this resistance condoned by institution.
On monumentalising the system of critique.
A Synthesis of Intuitions was due to travel from the MoMA to the prestigious Haus der Kunst in Munich, Germany. The exhibition was cancelled, however, with the Haus citing financial problems as their rationale behind the cancellation. This coming after accusations of Scientologists infiltrating the institution’s staff and also after the late acclaimed curator Okwui Enwezor had stepped down from his position as director of the Haus. In an interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, Enwezor stated that he ‘no longer felt wanted at the institution.’ Citing also the lack of moral support from the institution as a driving factor for his retirement, it is almost unsurprising that the Haus would cancel Piper’s exhibition. Here we arrive at moral odds: it is highly suspicious, to say the least, that an exhibition by a black woman is cancelled due to ‘financial reasons’, when its replacement is Markus Lupertz, a white man of a comparably similar financial value to Piper. This cancellation speaks to a shift in what the Haus der Kunst had strived for under Enwezor’s leadership, Jörg Heiser writes, “One can get the impression that the intention here is to return to the proven figures of the art world, who are primarily German and male.”
On condoning resistance
Resistance will eternally be at the mercy of the institution. Sven-Olov Wallenstein writes, “Many of these critical ideas, for some, are the object of a considerable nostalgia, and the ground for a denunciation of the present, for others, they have become the backbone of a new type of official institutional discourse, where self-reflexivity and self-criticism are what provides the art institution with its very source of legitimacy.” I am simultaneously allowed to slump in my chair, confused, and be fascinated by the words of Gorrie, Butler, and Chamas, due to this very fact Wallenstein speaks of. Resistance becomes the basis for pedagogy: a meta-didacticism in the works, critique becomes a key factor considered in the average gallery programmer’s apparatus.
Before then curating resistance.
Take, for instance, the recent Whitney Biennial, and it’s strong aims for a progressive and equal playing field; “A profound consideration of gender, equity, and race,” according to Hockley and Panetta’s curatorial statement. This year, however, it was met with strong criticism from artists and activists alike for sustaining businessman Warren Kanders’ position on the museum’s board. Kanders notoriously headed the firearms and weaponry manufacturer, Safariland, often contracted by American law enforcement to supply tear gas used to deter peaceful protests, or as they call it, civil ‘unrest’. Pitched against the contra-scape of its controversy, the Whitney still aimed to maintain this incommensurability of ideals. A display of cognitive dissonance at its finest. Curator Rujeko Hockley often became the poster child for the institution’s progressive values, the young curator gaining some traction in New York’s art circles for her radical curating practices as a person of colour. Yet the moral chaos behind the Whitney’s sleek glass doors remained at large: it seems that existing at dialectical odds is a predisposition for contemporary art practitioners working at the nexus of baby boomer tradition and burgeoning gen Z ideals. To what degree does Hockley (and Panetta) hold power as curators? Poignant critical thinkers of our time in their own right, they both remain subordinate to the institutional structures they work within, the big man upstairs.
Approaching resistance this year, Hockley and Panetta, had to work in close proximity with their artists and with their board, making decisions such as facilitating Forensic Architecture’s switch to presenting a video work referencing the crimes of Safariland against the public, yet never explicitly mentioning Kanders’ name in the work. This is curated resistance. Pretty ironic that an institution would strive to curate works of resistance, whilst being ignorant to the issues these works are trying to resist against. Marginal thought is legitimised by the institution, and ultimately this critical thought can only exist at the behest of the institution.
Institutional critique is inevitably, an act of introspection, given its inward nature. Or, at least, that is what it attempts to be. Returning to Agamben’s quote, the spatial gallery becomes an avenue, or rather, an arena of sorts, it takes upon the role of the ‘situ’ for introspection. In the case of Buren’s cancelled work at the Guggenheim, the spiral rotunda became the site for introspection, challenging the architecture of the site. But introspection is always easier when one is removed from the site of introspection: a dialectical opposition in itself. Perhaps Buren’s work hit, quite literally, too close to home, and the Guggenheim’s decision in 2005 to revive the work came under the presupposition that 1971’s In Situ was an event long behind the surface of the institution. The Guggenheim wants us to understand the shift in their moral grounds, they’ve changed since ‘71; this is their apparatus.
On the writing style I have employed.
No one will give you the education you need to overthrow them. Taking into account the histories of contemporary art, the movement we know as institutional critique can almost be rendered a form of education in itself, a school of thought, forming the basis for those following suit. Haacke inevitably influenced the work of Fraser whom then pioneered institutional critique post-situational nexus. Aså Nacking writes,
“Institutional critique is in fact carried out most efficiently inside the institutions … This is where changes and shifts in art take place.”
In locating nexus, a connection is also implied, rather than an amalgam, common ground in which duality relies on its contingency to the other. A critique launched against institution, within an institutional space, is inherently a critique of the self.
How do we process institutional critique when its techniques have been co-opted into a wider institution, and are, in simple terms, no longer as radical? Returning to this idea of the symposium. It’s at points such as the slumping in my chair and my mind running off elsewhere that I question why I’m there. Yes, I’ve found wonderment in the words of some, but Jesus H. Christ, have I wasted a lot of time finding these few. Perhaps I’m institutionalising myself, forming a pedagogy of my own to then enact in my apparatus as a writer? Admittedly, I’ve written in first person with the exact purpose of breaking the fourth wall, creating Brechtian verfremdunseffekt in order to enact my apparatus.
I sure hope you haven’t found yourself slumped in your chair, confused at this point.
FANCY: A self-contained symposium in 7 topics.
Artist statement for MADA Now Grad Show
On a theoretical impetus.
Exhibiting practices principally operate with apparatus as a primary objective. Apparatus, according to Giorgio Agamben, refers to the orienting, reinforcing, or controlling of social discourse and opinion. This apparatus functions simultaneously as soft power, in the scope of global politics. With an emphasis on the utility of the exhibition and the modes in which it operates, I have attempted a synthesis, not of intuition, but rather, of reason.
Symposia (2019) Installation view (photography by Teagan Ramsay)
On an Asian identity.
Developed in pre-WW2 Japan, ‘Pan’ Asianism refers to the ideology of a unified Asian people group under a set of values and ideals. The ‘Pan’ Asian, was a resistance against a colonial West, which argued for a prosperous Asian society rid of a dwelling on the metaphysical particular.
My concerns, however, lie not within the philosophical, but rather within the semantic utility of the prefix-ed ‘Pan’, (not to be confused with the cooking instrument, much to my disappointment), in ‘Pan’ Asian: its syntactically homogenising nature and conclusive function in contemporary discourse. The ‘Pan’ summarises its syntactic counterpart as a singular and consistent entity; an ironic dialectical opposition to the Absolutist foundation of the ideology.
These imperialistic undertones remain prevalent in its contemporary iterations, where the ideology privileges modern East Asian sensibilities, particularly that of the Japanese, (South) Korean, and Chinese, over the rest of Asia. ‘Pan’ Asianism operates within the paradox of resisting Western colonial homogenisation, and its self-righteous intentions masked under Absolutism: an incommensurable duality, negating multiplicity within an innately diverse Asian identity.
In other words, the ‘Pan’ Asian matrix made me drink a lot of fucking bubble tea.
On K-pop music.
In 2016, YG Entertainment debuted their hotly anticipated act: Blackpink, the ‘final boss’, as you call it, of K-pop girl groups. Succeeding the likes of giants like 2NE1 and Girl’s Generation, Blackpink sourced its four members from across Asia and Oceania to create the perfectly diverse mix of modern Asian identities, cementing an almost universal appeal across Asian communities, particularly in Western societies. I am not a Blink (Blackpink’s fanbase nickname), though, and I will attest to this statement despite the numerous Instagram-story recordings of me acting hysterical at their concert.
I prefer being a ‘Once’, a fan of the JYP Entertainment helmed, Twice. Known for their sweet and cutesy brand, Twice is currently the most popular girl group in Asia. They are often referred to as Asia’s it girl group, with a non-stop career spanning 4 years and 8 mini album releases, (or ‘eras’). Unlike Blackpink, their marketing strategy does not target the West. So why Twice? I cannot really answer that question. After all, my present state inhabits Asian-ness within a Western diaspora: prime target for YG’s Blackpink. Pulling their nine members from across Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan, Twice’s branding aims at a cutesy, sweet, yet elegant image of Asian femininity… Traits I may ... or may not be aiming for, in consolidating my own femininity.
On a ‘queering’ of art production, exhibiting cultures and its formal qualities; locating queer politics in the scope of contemporary art, and art histories/movements, or, how it is inserted into these spaces/resists being present in these spaces.
Am queer so my work is queer.
On institutional critique.
Returning to Agamben’s quote, the spatial gallery becomes an avenue, or rather, an arena of sorts. Visual display becomes the medium, yet, synthesising intuition behind said display completes the apparatus. For it is intuitive action that drives us to create. How do I then synthesise multiplicity, between two almost incommensurable worlds of culture I inhabit both intentionally and unintentionally?
To connect implies a nexus, rather than an amalgam, (or synthesis): common ground in which duality relies on its contingency to the other. A critique launched against institution, within an institutional space, is inherently a critique of the self.
Looking to the image of the K-Pop idol, I fantasise a successful career in the contemporary arts sector. What does contributing to the contemporary art cultural matrix entail? Is there only space for me to be an Agamben-quoting ‘intellectual’? Sometimes I just want to dance! This is cognitive dissonance, where I envy the weight and longevity of a scholarly career. I froth the shit out of Andrea Fraser, and I want to be an artist like her. My work is a symptom of imposter syndrome. Critically aiming to ‘challenge,’ ‘destabilise,’ ‘subvert,’ (etc./Ad nauseam) exhibiting practices and art histories, positioning it within a framework that makes intelligible the soft power of K-Pop music, whilst simultaneously, wanting to be, like, the best artwork ever.
On my love.
There’s an almost unintelligible level of euphoria, pleasure, and love that I feel for the culture in which I posit myself. Whether I choose to be or not, I am present. In the words of the great Park Ji-Hyo, “Yes you, I fancy you. You can be happy like a dream, because I need you. Fancy, you.”
REVIEW: this mob. at West Space
At Home: On the artist in residence
“Eat my decolonisation!” reads a speech bubble from a painted rendition of the universally recognised cultural icon, SpongeBob SquarePants, on the wall of West Space’s east gallery. Discreetly perched on the wall underneath one of the gallery windows, this work is, unironically, the most telling of the time in which this mob, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander-inclusive artist collective, took residency in the gallery.
Capping off West Space’s short 2019 season before relocating to their new site at Collingwood Arts Precinct, the artist-run space gave the collective free reign within the space over a period of six weeks from July to August. Following these conditions, the gallery was only open to the public at the behest of the collective, where they hosted weekly workshop events in art-making, and CDJ engineering. It is important to note, however, that this residency did not have a public outcome in the form of an exhibition; traditionally the case with artist residencies. The closest to an outcome being a party held in the gallery, where the collective invited Indigenous artists to perform and DJ at the event with the aim to celebrate Aboriginality.
No such residency had been done in Melbourne, let alone West Space, raising eyebrows, and rightly so, considering the history of Indigenous exclusion Australian institutions have seen in their programming practices. To what degree does an institutional entity playing host hold merit in its programming; how must institutions today navigate good intention whilst being mindful of performative activism? Furthermore, at what capacity has the residency spoken to the politics beyond the gallery?
Alongside the mentioned absorbent and nonchalant character; a slew of other wall painting works, highly reminiscent of the iconoclastic visual language found in present-day activism. Recognisable statements such as, “Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land,” “White Australia has a Blak history,” “You are on sacred Aboriginal land,” to name a few, line the gallery’s east space; a result of the workshops ran throughout the course of the residency. In the west gallery, closest to the entrance, studio spaces for the collective, where artists Kate ten Buuren, Kaydee Kyle-Taylor, Kalyani Mumtaz, and Laila Thaker worked on producing works for their personal practice.
Given the lack of pressure for a public outcome, it is evident that West Space underwent a re-negotiation of its structural governance over the space. As an institution, they effectively relinquished their power in programming this residency and allowed the collective to simply do whatever they wanted, at their convenience, assisting them whenever needed. Almost ironically reverting ownership of the artist-run initiative, back to the artist. Perhaps it is this lack of tension between the two entities that produced a lacklustre wider social critique on current structures curating the inclusion of Indigenous artists in the Australian contemporary art landscape.
In their mission statement, this mob’s primary goals are to provide facilitated spaces and events that aim to build strength between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, celebrate blakness, and destroy imposed boundaries that try to inhibit our creativity and culture. It is unknown whether this residency was imposed on West Space by the collective; and whether they applied or were approached by the gallery remains unclear. In order to enact their mission statement, it is important that West Space as hosts were reciprocative of the collective’s values in their intentions behind programming this residency. This questioning becoming even more pertinent with the gallery not applying any pressure on the collective to exhibit a public outcome: the collective’s mere presence at West Space being a testament to their mission statement being realised.
This line of questioning primarily lies within the negotiation of power and its consequences, or lack thereof, in the socio-political realm. Julian Myers-Szupinska writes, in his essay “The Exhibition as Apparatus,” that the artist, as a generational collective creates work that establishes its audience in the scope of the public, and that the exhibition mediates the two facets. Essentially, the exhibition facilitates an understanding of oneself in a collective consciousness, and the lack of a public outcome with the residency at West Space adamantly resists allocating the intellectual labour of performing such a task on Indigenous artists.
Perhaps the strongest evidence attesting to the reciprocity, is their collaboration with Blindside ARI, Opportunities for Artists running concurrently with the residency. At Blindside, projected onto a small television, was a live feed from a camera at West Space, activated only when movement was detected by the device. Organised by Kate ten Buuren, a core member of this mob collective, the works at Blindside present a unique approach to collaboration: working with New Agency collective helmed by Steven Rhall. Rhall’s work primarily being the technological application of said camera feeds creating the cross-institutional dialogue and critiquing the frameworks of inclusion.
Bearing this in mind, the mediated public and audience relationship is made manifest within the live feed of West Space at Blindside. Attesting to (both) institutions’ reciprocity in wanting to facilitate the destruction of structures which have gatekept Indigenous peoples from the arts. In providing audiences at Blindside a voyeuristic device, the two collectives’ place themselves under the looking glass, raising questions surrounding the expectations attached to producing Indigenous art. Speaking to the power dynamic and move on West Space’s behalf not to enforce a public outcome deadline on this mob.
The works produced in West Space by the collective did little to fit into the white cube tropes which the gallery has often been complicit in its exhibiting practices. The wall paintings, UV light drawings, and banners functioning to create a celebratory and safe space for Indigenous peoples rather than critique the institution. This function is evident in the party the collective hosted towards the tail end of their residency: a night inclusive of Indigenous peoples, celebrating their blakness, whatever shape or form it may come in, all within the bounds of the gallery. The party, and its complete rejection of an expected public outcome (the exhibition) spurs discussion specifically to the questions raised on reciprocity and the intent behind West Space’s inclusion of the residency in their program.
In relinquishing power almost completely, and handing it over to the artist collective, West Space effectively places responsibility of the space on the shoulders of this mob. Where does their duty of care end and the collective’s begin? Knowing very little of the relationship this mob had with West Space, it can only be assumed that given the smooth sailing six week program, the relationship was, at the very least, cordial. this mob’s mission statement was realised during their residency. CDJ workshops were run by Mumtaz, and Kyle-Taylor organised art-making sessions every Sunday inclusive for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who wish to explore their creativity: opening the once closed door which inhibited these peoples from doing such.
Perhaps the six week residency program lacked a tension telling of the imbalanced relationship between Indigenous arts and Australian contemporary art institutions. Hence its lack of gravitas in comparison to the Blindside phase of the entire project. Works produced as a result of the residency at West Space held little to no consequences on the physical space of the gallery, with the studio tables and wall paintings all easily painted over in gallery white after the residency had ended. West Space serves as a placeholder, or rather, a point of reference, for Rhall and Buuren’s critical approach at Blindside. Critically the residency does not add more to critical discourse surrounding inclusion practices within art institutions than simply pushing for the validity of Indigenous existence: the work they produce should be valid bar any relation to a discursive framework.
Several issues arise from this. In applying this critical lens of the collective’s relationship to institution, and the works they produce as a result; the scope of Indigeneity becomes narrowed. The expectation to represent Indigeneity in purely innovative and radical ways conditions the value of their work to be dependent on their identity as an oppressed people group, an expectation born out of tokenism and does no more than alleviate settler colonial guilt. Why not question white artists, and only deem them valid once they innovate? Interrogating the depth of their critical work and agency over it, furthermore, should not be dependent on how they intervene in spaces where they are the traditional owners. In taking up residency and, for lack of better wording, doing whatever they want, is already an incendiary act in itself. Existence in the contemporary arts and the acknowledgement of such is a fundamentally radical gesture in a climate tipped against one’s survival.
“Eat my decolonisation!” SquarePants is represented here as holding a duality of sorts: the imposing statement in contrast with his known innocence and playfulness. He is forceful, yet playful, calculative and intentional, aware of the structural practices which inhibit decolonisation within an art context. Despite the Indigenous peoples should not be expected to enact a didactic and utilitarian function on the work they produce, and whatever work they produced should be seen as valid regardless of its critical standing.