THE SCALE OF JUSTICE
As part of OzAsia Festival
Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide, Australia
Lion Arts Centre, Adelaide, Australia
23 October - 11 November 2018
THE SCALE OF JUSTICE
As part of Oz Asia Festival
Backbreaking physical work has traditionally fallen to women in Thailand. This Thai-Australian artist turns her body into a variety of simple tools and machines that offer a powerful examination of the continuing challenges of women’s everyday labour.
An active meditation on feminism, consumerism, endurance and social justice.
During OzAsia Festival, a selection of Kawita Vatanajyankur’s
series TOOLS/WORK are presented in The Scale of Justice at Nexus Arts. This exhibition features three video pieces: The Scale (2015); Scale of Justice ll (2016); and The Lift (2017). These works see the artist’s body transformed into ‘machinery’ commonly found at local Thai fruit markets. She re-enacts the tools and tasks of its workers, including the transporting, weighing and carrying of assorted fruits and vegetables.
I am intrigued by Vatanajyankur’s use of self-objectification as a tactic to gain autonomy alongside her processes of transformation. Kawita utilises endurance and repetition as forms of manual labour and through these processes she is able to test and push her bodily limitations. Vatanajyankur criticises consumerism and consumption through her use of fruit, colour and video.
In The Lift, 2017, Vatanajyankur is suspended, legs tightly folded back, with a basket nestled between her feet, back and arms. The basket contains a display of freshly cut papayas. If she were to release her tense posture, the basket would fall. As she ascends, and is then lowered, she remains gracefully immobile. This basket is weighing down the artist’s strained frame. Held by two ropes, wrapped around metal frames under her chest and pelvis, she has become an integral piece of the pulley system. We watch her rise and fall repeatedly, like deep staggered breathes.
I think about the bar pressing against her chest. Her contorted body works to maintain this pose against an obnoxious-blue wall, its brightness reminiscent of advertising designed to appeal to consumerist interests. The Lift speaks to consumerism and the objectification of women’s bodies.
Alternatively, Vatanajyankur objectifies herself when she takes on the responsibilities of the machine. She utilises mediation as a process of transformation.