Artists: My Le Thi and Ruth Watson
Gallery 4A [4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art] is pleased to present two artists whose work addresses a sense of place – a sense of where we are in the world, as part of Australian Perspecta 1999.
Ruth Watson’s work attempt to re-position Australia and New Zealand, where she was born, from their marginal place within the discourse of cartography. Featured in the exhibition, Interrupting the World (1999), for instance, is a light-coloured carpet stained with red wine, resembling the aftermath of a party. Although the spontaneity of the spills resemble the ambiguous blobs of a Rorschach image, they also represent a view of the globe.
My Le Thi’s work focuses on an exploration of racial politics through physical signifiers such as hair, eye and skin colour. Her controversial work from 1997 consisted of a series of small heads cast in the likeness of Pauline Hanson, each painted a different colour in red, black, yellow and white, representing different racial groups. This work was a critique of racial stereotypes embodied in the political agenda of the One Nation party.
Thi’s installation for this exhibition is titled Transformation (1999), and involves members from the Sydney Vietnamese community, whose shoes or casts of their own feet are featured alongside Thi’s in the show. Thi considers shoes to be an idiosyncratic symbol of journey and life experience and, by including shoes made by others, aims to present a cacophony of different stories of migration from Vietnam to Australia.