‘Utopic Representations’

’30 Days of Winter’, Day 3

‘Utopic Representations’

The art of the fridge magnet is undervalued, I believe. There is a particular type of fridge magnet common in Australia; small clear-plastic/resin(?)-coated ones with (usually) brightly-coloured semi-cartoon images on them, depicting scenes or emblematic features of the particular town or region they are commemorating.

These can be found in giftshops and service stations and general stores and on fridges all over Australia. To me, they seem to capture a lost utopia, an ideal vision of a particular place captured in time and frozen in miniature; the little fisherman casting his line on a golden beach, a sawmiller standing on cartoon logs, a mysterious gold miner depicted against the backdrop of the diggings.

In an Australian sense, I feel these utopic representations are a symbol of a striving to give the places depicted a deeper history, to officially stake a claim for the European connection to the land. These ideal visions look to sink roots into the country and offer a “knockabout” and easily digested snapshot of how a particular area sees itself (and how it wants itself to be seen).

But I can’t help thinking that behind a lot of that sentiment, behind those sunny smiles on sunny shores, lies a darker tone, one that seeks to subjugate  that land and place, assert control over it, in the face of the fact that at a fundamental level, that land and the people who once “owned” it had to be conquered.

That idea, combined with the fact that a vision of utopia necessarily excludes day-to-day reality and dreary thoughts of taking the rubbish out and/or getting skin cancer, makes me see these magnets in a very different light to what I am sure their makers intended. And who made them anyway?

Oh, they’re just fun fridge magnets! Get over it!

Here is an alternative reading of them, of the history of such places, regardless.

This video was based on these some of these images, below, which were created out of enlargements of actual fridge magnets. These enlargements were bonded to plyboard with resin, painted in parts and coated in resin. I see this project as opening up the images on the magnets and delving into them, finding the shadows behind the scenes, the sound behind the silence of the picture postcard depictions. Etcetera.

So … colour print on plyboard, acrylic paint, resin. Approx 40cm X 25cm.

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