A Place in Paradise

(you gotta love it)


Artspace, Sydney

Photos: Louise M Cooper


Text by Freya Herring (abridged) sourced from: www.artguide.com.au

…. “Entitled A Place in Paradise, this work was put together by veteran Australian artist Pat Hoffie as part of the Fully Exploited Labour project that has occupied her for three decades. Despite appearances, a leftist protestation isn’t the artist’s motivation for producing this piece. Rather, it might be seen to serve as a preface to a discussion not only on immigration, but also Australian identity, social norms and perceptions of what our culture is and can be.

Included in her new exhibition you gotta love it, opening at Artspace right after Australia Day on January 31, A Place in Paradise is one of twenty-eight artworks that utilise the Aussie-sloganed bumper stickers sold throughout the tourist centres of Kuta and Legian in Bali. Returning these stickers to a Balinese context by transposing them onto traditional Balinese reliefs, slogans like “NO ROOT NO RIDE” and “TONGUE MY JAP EYE” narrate the story of debased Australian culture on a visual plain, exposing the offensiveness of such plebeian language from a cultural, rather than solely sexual, perspective.

But Hoffie refuses to take an entirely negative stance on the stickers: “The fact is that they are the products of some kind of cultural exchange, no matter what level you judge that to be at, and that they say something about that exchange.” ….

Hoffie identifies the use of Aussie humour in these stickers as part of a positive narrative – there is beauty in the resigned shame that links us together in reading these proverbial maxims. “Their awkwardness possibly makes them more egalitarian,” Hoffie says.

And in this way, this new exhibition will open up dialogues on Australian culture, on our very “daggyness… when we are at our best”. Hoffie asserts that “I do actually love each of these little objects: I love their grubby mismatched poetry and perversity; and their humour and cack-handed awkwardness; and I love the fact that they’re probably going to look like garish little orphans in the slick interior of Artspace.”