16 September to 22 October 2016
Fireworks Gallery, Brisbane
Photo credit: Mick Richards
This series of work continues Hoffie’s ongoing focus on the nature of work, a focus that has continued for three decades as part of the Fully Exploited Labour theme.
In this new body of work the artist constructed and painted a small ‘hi-vis’ army of men, each of them wearing uniforms of one of the manufacturing companies recently faced with closure in Australia. The men take on the silhouettes of the now infamous DIY ‘dumb waiters’ that were made in the early part of the twentieth century as an Australian home-made version of blackamoors. These simply fashioned domestic servants were inevitably painted black, and were placed next to couches or in doorways ready to receive ashtrays.
However this new army of ‘dumb waiters’ is not black but white, and the fact that Australia has, on the whole, stopped smoking makes their new role as offering a humble out-of-work service industry as carrying the receptacles for ashing-out all-the-more poignant. The installation is both humorous as well as unsettling, and raises questions about the changing nature of work, values and identity in Australia.