I’ve been sitting in front of the computer a great deal lately working with very big image files. This leaves a lot of little breaks for reading micro fiction – shorter than short stories that fill in the in between time data takes to save, render or print. So I was reading Seinlanguage (….I know, years later than anyone else but I’ve been having a clean out and it turned up). Jerry Seinfeld’s story that follows seemed an apt point to begin tonight’s talk:
Like it or not our things represent us. Most of the time, people’s things even look like them. Everyone is in the perfect clothes for them no matter what they are. To me everything you have is really a layer of clothing. Your body is your innermost and truest outfit. Your house is another layer of wardrobe. Then your neighbourhood, your city, your state. It’s all one giant outfit. We’re wearing everything. That’s why in certain towns, no matter what you’ve got on, you’re a bad dresser. Just for being there. Some places you’re better off just moving instead of changing.
Now Jerry’s got it right and he’s got it wrong. I think all of us living in a little smoke like Perth quietly suspects that he or she has got on the wrong outfit, a little provincial, ill fitting, too try hard maybe or perhaps charmingly or distressingly casual, depending on your point of view.
But Jerry’s got it wrong when he says the body is the truest outfit. As these works show, it is probably the most commonplace yet complicated garment we wear. The body is an outfit cut and sewn by the scientists that map and mulch our bodies, scrutinised by the CCTV of the many powers that watch our movements, measured and objectified by the multiple lenses of the media that limit and prescribe the way our bodies could and should be.
Have you every thought that maybe it’s time to move to some other body. Maybe something distressed, deconstructed, or less diseased? Are you still wearing last year’s body?
I’m overwhelmed by the ways my body is written over through scientific and medical language, I gasp with resentment at the sexualised nature of the gaze that is cast upon women. But at the same time I have a grudging and deep resentment of the way that gaze is conscientiously averted once you become a minute too old or a gram too fat. When I was little I lived in a nice functional playpen. Then I moved into a chic, uptown apartment. But when did I grow into a factory on the city outskirts? Yet the core of me, the collection of vulnerabilities made up of thoughts and feelings contained in this fragile flesh form remain the same.
It’s all too much to think about without at least a couple more glasses of wine but these works tonight by Julie Rrap, Boo Chapple, Jo Pursey, Michelle Siciliano, Kirsten Hudson and Liam Benson make for a compelling contemplation of our wetware and its implications.
And, it should be reassuring to us all that this is an exciting collection of works curated by an impressive new inner city development, Lia Mcknight. We can leave here this evening, assured for the time being, that we don’t have to move town even if we should move bodies.
Thanks to Lia for inviting me to open this exhibition, please consider it done and enjoy the rest of the evening. I’ll leave you all now to contemplate your own mortality at your leisure. Thanks.