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8° & CLOUDY ON SATURDAY 23 JUNE IN SYDNEY
By Annie Murney
June 16, 2014
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Totally Looks Like

Fancy a slice of Lasagne Del Ray? This group show is a meme-tastic world of muddled identities.
By Annie Murney
June 16, 2014
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Taking its name from the meme website that's a go-to for every good procrastinator, Totally Looks Like at Stills Gallery tackles the 21st century ease of crafting alternative personalities. It's the evolution (or devolution) from self-portrait to selfie that underpins this group exhibition.

If Cindy Sherman slapped on a bit of stage make-up and knocked up some papier mache props, it might come close to Jaimie Warren's humorous style of self-portraiture. Celebrating the amateur aesthetic of reality TV and internet memes, she dives into the user-driven world of popular culture, sapping the pretentiousness out of contemporary art.

In this series, she splices celebrities with food. One of her concoctions is Tuna Turner, a portrait of the '80s songstress with marbled pink skin and her trademark teased hair. There's also Lasagne Del Ray, a vision of cheese sauce and gluggy mascara. With those unmistakably sculpted eyebrows and pouted lips peeping through a mound of pasta, there's a lot of fun to be had here.

Jackson Eaton's Melfies appear to spring from the ‘try before you buy’ mantra of retail culture. A range of self-portraits are printed onto T-shirts and hung on conventional clothing racks for your browsing pleasure; however, Eaton has selected a circle of friends and relatives to dictate how these portraits are staged, relinquishing control of how he is perceived. By producing and marketing different sides of his personality, he unmasks the commercialism of the art world with deadpan humour.

In spite of this, there are acts of self-concealment throughout this series. For example, there's a self-portrait with a fern branch obscuring his face. Against a blue sky background, this has a Magritte flavour of optical play and trickery.

Kawita Vatanajyankur similarly recruits others in her self-portraiture. Her three video works feature acts of violence mixed with slapstick humour. Often appearing as a passive object, Wet Rag sees a woman scrubbing the floor with the artist's limp and soaped up body. The dark humour of these works is offset by their candy-coloured backgrounds. Shades of bubblegum pink and banana yellow prettify the action, creating an ethical dilemma in the viewer's mind.

Jodie Whalen offers a total change of mood and pace. Her self-portrait is less physical and more spiritual. In this digital video, we follow her gaze as she wanders through her suburban neighbourhood at sunrise. There are treetops, crossed powerlines and the occasional perched kookaburra. As day breaks, silhouetted houses become sun-splashed. With a shimmering soundscape, there is a relaxing harmony between the audio and visual elements. The work has a warm glow, inducing a nostalgia for the backyard block and tree-lined streets of your childhood.

Although there's artists I haven't mentioned, Stills Gallery have put together a strong group show. With Warren's gross-out giggles, Vatanajyankur's self-deprecation and Eaton's deadpan, there's also a great deal of humour. From the highly performative self to the the disembodied self, in today's world self-portraiture in art and life is given more scope and power to reproduce.

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