Who Gives a Crap (2021-22)

My practice often oscillates between employing the hyper-spectacle as a subversive strategy, and using banal, uninteresting, even typically ‘unspectacular’ materials. Sometimes both at the same time. In my latest series of works I am using toilet paper and paper towel products and making objects and installations which are seemingly understated.

Sale price = $4,066*

*$20.33 (minimum wage at time of making) x 200 hours = sale price

Images: #82/400 (November 2021)

In an extraordinary act of care, 400 blooms are embroidered from a single roll of Who Gives a Crap toilet paper. Stitching commenced September 2021 and took approximately 200 unpaid hours. Whilst sewing, I thought about labour + care = care labour. Medical care workers, mothers, childcare workers, teachers, aged-care workers; those that clean our galleries, houses, offices, hospitals. All are necessary workers who are undervalued, underpaid/unpaid—mostly women and/or marginalised groups and/or working precariat—who are unable to ‘work from home’ during pandemics. Initially conceived as commemorative flowers I now see the blooms as individual care workers—endlessly exploited; seemingly disposable, but most of all beautiful, fragile and necessary.

Images: #200/400 (February 2022)

The title of the work, Who Gives a Crap; the blooms’ treatment on the floor/discarded; together with their inherent beauty and fragility creates an uncomfortable tension that was of interest to me as this work evolved. It mimics a political deception evident in this pandemic moment. Political leaders are increasingly turning care labourers into soldiers of sacrifice in exploitative service to a capitalist system. It feels like care to valorise the “sacrifices” of our “brave”, “front-line” workers who are “putting their lives on the line”. But in fact, real care would be to carefully assess, acknowledge and restructure a broken system that persistently undervalues and marginalises careworkers, and give them the processes, resources and dignity they deserve.

Images: #337/400 (May 2022)

In these images, each bloom stands erect and proud ready for what is to come. I am intrigued by the playful tension with the broom, which is also poised and ready. Ready to just be swept away out of sight out of mind once this crisis has passed…

Who Gives a Crap won the Queensland Regional Art Textile Award in 2022.