Thursday, 27 March 2014

Performance: 'Sorry Doll', Redfern Biennale, March 8, 2014

The site specific performance that I presented for the Redfern Biennale saw the Sorry Doll (2014) respond to the complex socio-economic landscape of the Redfern public housing estate which is located between Cooper, Elizabeth, Redfern and Morehead Streets, Redfern. 

Performance details: The 'Sorry Doll' sat and stood shame faced at two bus stops on Elizabeth Street. The performance lasted 2 hours from 3.30- 5.30pm. Both locations guaranteed that all passing traffic, including foot, car and buses would encounter the Sorry Doll. 

Background: From the late 90s I lived on both Morehead Street and Elizabeth Street for approximately 8 years. The first dwelling was in the private sector (read: almost affordable sub-standard housing for artists)  and the second was emergency housing (subleased from the private sector) due to coming down with a chronic illness during my Honours year at SCA. [Needless to day, I vacated emergency housing when my health returned and I was able to return to secure ongoing employment.]

In preparation for this performance, I typed up a manifesto for the Sorry Doll, which would help visitors contextualise why the Sorry Doll was indeed sorry. To be absolutely clear, the Sorry Doll's manifesto reflects my own political views, which are informed by having lived on the edge of a public housing estate for many years. The following text is a copy of a handout that visitors were able to take away:

Sorry Doll is sorry for:
- The Union Jack on the Australian flag
- The Abbott Government
- The unlawful detention of Refugees on Manus Island
- Centrelink and Pension pay rates falling well below the minimal wage
- The erosion of worker rights and unions in Australia

The insurmountable void between the real costs of living in Sydney and Centrelink payments is indisputable. On the morning of the install, a friend and I were approached by a middle aged indigenous woman who wanted more information about the event. After briefing her, she had one question. I have paraphrased her question and comment: 'Will there be free food? No one around here has eaten for one week.'  

Her comment reminded me of J.M.Coetzee's novel, 'Disgrace' (1999). Set in a South African township, a haunting section of the novel depicts a parent and child sniffing glue together. Rationale: To curtail their hunger pangs. The comment, 'No one around here has eaten for a week' also reminded me of Warwick Thornton's provocative film 'Samson and Delilah' (2009), which depicts young indigenous kids sniffing petrol. 

To return to details about the performance, there was a huge element of risk involved due to the fact that the costume disallowed me to see for two hours. For readers who are not familiar with Sorry Dolls, these dolls depict oversized toddlers that have no face. Being temporarily blinded in an area where crystal methamphetimine drug culture appears to be on the increase required me to rethink the staging of the performance. Subsequently, I was able to enlist the help of trusted friends to 'become my eyes' during the course of the performance. 

Special thanks to my oh-so-macho minders: Robert Lake, Jeffrey Stewart and Lynne Barwick.
Photographic documentation: Felicity Jenkins
Event organiser: Damien Minton Gallery
Most importantly: Thankyou to the Redfern locals

India Zegan| Sorry Doll (2014)| Photographer: Felicity Jenkins


India Zegan| Sorry Doll (2014)| Photographer: Felicity Jenkins


India Zegan| Sorry Doll (2014)| Photographer: Felicity Jenkins

India Zegan| Sorry Doll (2014)| Photographer: Felicity Jenkins




India Zegan| Sorry Doll (2014)| Photographer: Felicity Jenkins

India Zegan| Sorry Doll (2014)| Photographer: Felicity Jenkins

India Zegan| Sorry Doll (2014)| Photographer: Felicity Jenkins

India Zegan| Sorry Doll (2014)| Photographer: Felicity Jenkins



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