Photography by Tim Gresham
Sold, Shifted Gallery, 2009
Kristin McIver is a Melbourne-based artist working in a variety of media, who challenges our notion of identity as embodied by architecture. Her work is a study of obsession, desire and consumption, explored in both a local and global context.
McIver’s Sold exhibition, currently on show at Shifted Gallery in Richmond, explores instilled ideals of The Dream Home and how these ideals flow through to architecture at large. McIver explores the cultural influence behind the human need to create ideal spaces, and the political and capitalist initiatives that exploit these desires.
McIver questions whether the Great Australian Dream is still alive today in the minds of younger generations. If so, is this dream driven by demand or supply – the primal needs of families or the bottom line of big business?
In an effort to rebuild economies after the Second World War and instill capitalist ideals in the face of an increasing “communist threat”, governments worked towards building a Home Owning Democracy. By providing financial incentives for home ownership, governments could ensure that each citizen owned a slice of capitalism. Corporate profiteers soon followed suit, realising huge gains to be made by exploiting this ideal.
In recent years, the Great Australian Dream of home ownership has become unattainable for the majority of young families. Due to a number of factors, such as a population influx and tax breaks for wealthy homeowners, house prices have soared out of reach of the average family. Yet the desire still remains; fuelled by seductive marketing and political propaganda.
McIver’s Sold series are 2 and 3-dimensional renditions of architectural and domestic objects constructed using acrylic plastic and neon lights. The artist uses a monochromatic palette, reducing the artistic forms to surface and veneer. Their absence of physical depth highlights this veneer and exposes the objects as having no substance beyond their seductive appeal. The overt materiality of these works mimics the glossy marketing devices exploited in the recent boom time.
McIver borrows phrases from domestic marketing and media, emblazoning them in neon and lights to seduce the viewer into the works, and then exposing them to the irony and falsity of their message. This minimalist approach objectifies the items, removing all pretence and rendering the objects as simply plastic and lights.
McIver’s Sold series proposes that obsession, desire, aspiration - and their perpetuity through exploitation - may eventually be the elements which turn capitalism on itself. The unfolding global financial crisis, which is due in part to those ideals instilled in Home Owning Democracies, may condemn The Dream to the realm of fantasy.
Is the Great Australian Dream born out of a collective human desire, or are these desires sold to us in order to serve the financial needs of big business? Who owns The Dream?