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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Jason Wing: House Wigger

Dealing with the faceless racism of the internet, Jason Wing conducts a self-styled therapy session.
By Annie Murney
November 07, 2014
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By Annie Murney
November 07, 2014
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Everyone knows an online comments sections is a pretty toxic place to be, but artist Jason Wing knows that better than most. After winning the 2012 Parliament of NSW Aboriginal Art Prize for his bronze bust of Captain Cook wearing a balaclava, Wing became a constant target of online abuse. Of course, he wasn't alone in his examination of the English explorer; other artists such as Daniel Boyd have sought to reveal the hoodlum behind the 'hero' by using traditional forms to re-classify European settlement as theft. But, unfortunately for Wing, this political statement attracted a number of racist responses to his work. House Wigger, his latest exhibition at Alaska Projects, draws from this experience.

Comprised of a number of small and subtle works, the exhibition takes the artist's real world abuse into the gallery. Wing uses a debossing technique to replicate the comments of his anonymous attackers, many of whom targeted his physical appearance and disputed his Aboriginal identification. Consisting of white text on white paper, these works are almost too elegant for their crude content. Needing close proximity in order to be read, it is as if these bigoted quotes are in the process of fading, sinking slowly into their backgrounds. On the other hand, the letters are also etched in like little scars.

Wing draws upon a group of Andrew Bolt devotees who have an apparent obsession with blackness and a rigid view on what "passes for art these days". It's a fixation with skin colour over self-determination. This is what Wing hones in on: the right to self-identify when confronted with accusations that he is "cashing in" on culture or tasteless jokes about being "dipped in bleach".

While we might dismiss this kind of cyber bullying as the ramblings of trolls and time wasters, it is surely indicative of the society from which it comes. Whether it be engaging or ignoring, everyone has strategies of dealing with the perpetual stream of online ignorance that tends to be more brutal than anyone would dare be in real life. Call it the darker side of democracy, but Wing highlights the kind of faceless racism that creeps into our daily conversation without repercussion.

House Wigger is a subtle little exhibition which is probably more of an epilogue to Wing's original work, Australia Was Stolen By Armed Robbery. In addition to the paper works, there is an audio track mechanically reciting the quotes over and over, alienating their meaning. While vicious words can certainly carry weight, this exhibition sees Wing extract them from their original ownership and change their destination.

Image: Australia Was Stolen By Armed Robbery by Jason Wing.

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