Identity Thieves

16 March – 14 April 2007

Artists: Angkrit Ajchariyasophon, Anthea Behm, Tim Gregory, Suzan Liu, Laurel Nakadate and Patrick Swann

Identity Thieves brings together work by Asian-Australian, Australian, Asian and Asian-American artists who imagine and construct complicated identities for themselves and investigate the slippages and uncanny dimensions of these identities through performance, video and installation. It also considers the role of giving, borrowing and stealing in the economy of contemporary identity. In this exhibition the artists work across mediums to reveal the play between who we are and who we can be in a hyper-mediated cultural context.

Thai artist Angkrit Ajchariyasophon in his work The Perfect English Gentleman examines the global dominance of English speaking culture. Rather than exoticise his Thai identity, Angkrit prefers to parody colonial models that persist to this day. Angkrit’s work addresses the soft colonialism of the art world, the behavioural and social coercion by which the dominant, English-speaking culture quietly and politely takes over the world.

Laurel Nakadate is half-Japanese American born artist. Her video work explores the negotiation of identity in both natural and urban scenes. This dichotomous nature of identity, landscapes, gender and age all combine as Nakadate investigates the multidimensional facets of contemporary identities.

Australian born artist Anthea Behm explores idealised notions of female identity. She utilises her own body as the vehicle for expression her video work The Chrissy Diaries aims to explore and implicitly critique the plethora of stereotypes in mass media.

Sydney based artist, Suzan Liu’s installation Inborn Fantasies addresses Liu’s sense of shifting identity and cultural sense of self. The installation uses romantic notions of Chinese martial arts that are ‘inborn’ and constructed within Australia and the misappropriation of Chinese mountains and the Australian bush to explore Liu’s understanding of her own shifting identities.

Tim Gregory’s video work Gregorian (999) directly engages with the idea of cultural and identity theft. The work shows the artist cutting his hair in front of 999 paper cranes, the black hair ‘polluting’ the white cranes and the artist chanting a Gregorian monastic chant. Gregory uses the cranes and chanting to explore how borrowing or theft from a cultural ‘Other’ is a primary way in which individuals form identity. This work leaves the identities unresolved and incomplete, as stolen identities are. There are 999 cranes, not 100 the act of chanting is unresolved and a clear identity has failed to be achieved.

Patrick Swann‘s Like A Rat With Phar Lap’s Heart (Patrick Swann’s Hypotheticals) is a set of effigies and an ongoing, interminable competition – and yet, it also deals with good guys and good times. The work asks a series of important questions: What happens when said good guys are robots? What happens when said robots are rodents? What happens when said robot rodents engage in pugilism? What happens when said robot rodents win hearts and minds? The answer? Good luck – better luck next time.