Us vs Them

Platform has a wacky exhibition by Simon Pericich; wack-wack wacky with my wacking-stick wacky. Violent fun with lots of weapons and the spray-painted slogan: “…when they come we will be ready”

I enjoy exhibitions that create new fictional cultures. There were lots of weapons displayed in Platform’s glass cases like museums display antique or ethnographic weapons collections. And, as in those displays, the weapons are not just functional but decorative cultural artifacts. Pericich’s improvised weapons are the decorative, colorful artifacts of some post-apocalyptic suburbia.

Some of Pericich’s weapons were less dangerous than others; some may not even be functional, like the crossbow made from a guitar neck and a clothes hanger, but they are all hysterical. Arm yourself with what is around the house: mops and brooms turned into spears, golf clubs and cricket bats studded with nails, fails with mirrorballs, whips made from electrical cables, quarterstaffs with high heels.

Looking at the weapons I started to think which ones I could manufacture from items around the house but why would I? This arsenal of crude weapons are hysterical paranoid reaction to an ambiguous threat – who are “they”?

Who are they? ‘They’ are not one of us. This is explained in Brad Haylock’s “A Beginner’s Guide to Politics” at Vitrine, also in Campbell’s Arcade. This exhibition ties in beautifully with the crude politics of the weapons in Simon Pericich’s exhibition. Haylock has condensed politics to “US/THEM” in large, glowing, neon letters.

Both of these exhibitions mark the end of recent extreme paranoid global and local politics. In the past few years the public has been threatened with the ambiguous threat from “them”: terrorists, refugees, American neo-cons, Muslims, germ warfare and nuclear-armed states. This confused dichotomy is the front line of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now we are beginning to see this insane period of world politics as crude, manipulative madness. For both of these artists finding something aesthetic in the ugly side of politics is an achievement. And this makes them excellent exhibitions for the public space of Platform where they are seen by hundreds of commuters daily.

About Mark Holsworth

Writer, independent researcher and artist, Mark Holsworth is the author of the book Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

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