SeeSaw_Proms_970x90.jpg
Reviews/Visual Art

Reality cheque

20 September 2017

Review: Taylor Reudavey’s “I Know How Hard It Can Get”
Moana Project Space, 9 September
Review by Belinda Hermawan

Taylor Reudavey’s multimedia exhibition “I Know How Hard It Can Get” delves into the finer details of what is essentially a divisive but nonetheless important conversation in Australian society: federal unemployment and welfare policy. In a country that has traditionally prided itself as being egalitarian, Reudavey’s inquiry probes the philosophies and assumptions to which both citizens and politicians subscribe, exposing the viewer to both sides of the proverbial coin.

The exhibition comprises of five pieces, the highlight being the half hour short film Bludger which explores unemployment by documenting those directly involved in the often dehumanising process. This is where Reudavey shines, balancing a number of compelling subjects, all presented as valid in their conflicting sympathies and opinions. Each viewer will see Bludger through their own filter, and what works is the accessibility of these journeys: you are more likely to automatically connect to the beliefs into which you’ve been socialised, but here you’ll also be put in a position to pay heed to an opposing view. For me, as a human resources professional with no working knowledge of the challenges of JobActive, for instance, I  found myself feeling more empathy for those struggling to make ends meet. The film helped me to see its subjects as my fellow citizens, too often marginalised as mere application numbers in a line for welfare.

Taylor Reudavey, I Know How Hard It Can Get (install shot), 2017, Photo by Paul Sutherland

The exhibition’s video inclusion of former federal Treasurer Joe Hockey’s rhetoric is, therefore, particularly relevant background. In a speech to parliament in 2015, Hockey asserted we were a nation that could be divided into two – ‘lifters’ and ‘leaners’. This dichotomy echoed the United Kingdom’s George Osborne, who coined the terms ‘strivers’ and ‘skivers’, and the debate in the United States surrounding Mitt Romney’s identification of the 47% of Americans dependent on government welfare. Perhaps the audience will even self-identify into one of two groups, whether consciously or not.

Ultimately, however, the inclusion of additional supporting material is where Reudavey’s installation falls short. The foldout chairs set up in front of the Bludger screen only somewhat mimic a waiting room. The laminated signs of Reading Material, depicting the patronising rules one might encounter in a Centrelink office, are too clinical a reduction. These signs would have been more effective if presented in greater number or with some sort of treatment; it is as if the artist was afraid to satirise or otherwise make comment lest the neutrality of the installation end up compromised. The same goes for the basic inclusion of welfare paperwork in Like Clockwork, which had the potential to be a more dynamic statement on red tape. Similarly, the minimalist painted desk, clipboard, pen and slideshow of Lift came off as a hastily arranged addition, a structure that could have said more if it had been built up with either realism or surrealism.

“I Know How Hard It Can Get” should be commended for collecting uncomfortable truths and putting them forward for public dissection amongst both the haves and have-nots.

I Know How Hard It Can Get is showing at Moana Project Space until 30 September.

Belinda Hermawan is a former sessional academic in Political Science at the University of Western Australia and current Studios Manager of Paper Mountain.

Top: Taylor Reudavey, Bludger, 2017, still from HD video 33:08, Written, directed & edited by Taylor Reudavey, filmed by Graham Mathwin.

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Belinda Hermawan

Belinda Hermawan is a graduate of UWA Law School (2009) and a fiction writer whose short fiction has been published in Australia and the United States. She is a summer school alum of Parsons, The New School of Design in New York. Favourite piece of playground equipment: playground car on springs!

Past Articles

Read Next

  • Kiki Saito and Matthew Lehmann in Nils Christe's Before Nightfall. Photo by Bradbury Photography copy Two West Australian ballet dancers on stage - a woman is perched on one pointe, her other leg extended upwards in a split. She arches back, supported by a male dancer. Hitting high notes at 70
    Reviews

    Hitting high notes at 70

    25 June 2022

    Traversing a range of human emotion, West Australian Ballet’s latest triple bill is an evening of beautifully performed contemporary dance, reports Kim Balfour.

    Reading time • 6 minutesDance
  • Cabaret festival. A singer wearing a fur hat is on stage with a pianist, guitarist and drummer. We can see the dress circle seats of the theatre in the background lit in a greenish light. Tributes to musical idols light up stage
    Reviews

    Tributes to musical idols light up stage

    23 June 2022

    A cabaret veteran and opera performer bring very different interpretations of the greats of classical, jazz and pop in the second week of the Perth International Cabaret Festival, writes David Zampatti

    Reading time • 6 minutesCabaret
  • A semi circle of 8 singers, with one standing in the centre, facing an audience. They are in a large hall and there are cnadles, chairs and pot plants decorating the floor around them. Vanguards bring poetry to vocal music
    Reviews

    Vanguards bring poetry to vocal music

    20 June 2022

    Armchair poets become legends in their own lunchtimes in Vanguard Consort’s imaginative Saturday Night Poetry, writes Claire Coleman.

    Reading time • 5 minutesMusic

Leave a comment

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio