Habitat exhibition

  • 10 October–1 November 2008
  • Habitat exhibition
  • Utopian Slumps
  • 25 Easey Street
  • Collingwood, Melbourne
  • Australia
  • Curator: Laurence Billiet

Habitat features artists Laurence Billiet, Christine Eid and Georgia Metaxas, whose work explores themes of identity, home and belonging. With a common and unapologetic focus on ordinary, everyday objects the artists aim to challenge their audience's perception of the world that surrounds us and provide a commentary on the relationship between people/objects and their habitat.

Research

As part of Christine Eid’s ongoing exploration into aspects of the Victorian taxi industry, she tried to source statistics on workplace violence on taxi drivers. After contacting various stakeholders from the Victorian Taxi Directorate, Victorian Taxi Association, Victorian Taxi Drivers Association, Police Victoria, Work Safe Victoria, Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Criminology, Eid discovered that no such data is collected.

The Victorian Taxi Directorate, who regulate the taxi industry on behalf of the State Government, were the exception. They record statistics of incidents when footage from internal taxi security cameras has been downloaded. This only occurs where a complaint has been made to Victoria Police and they deem it serious enough to request such a download. They are the only assaults recorded and do not specify the types of assaults.

Process

The absence of statistics inspired Eid’s Rank (2008) installation and sculpture series. Vinyl graphs without data were adhered to the taxi dome shells. The domes were recontextualised into vessels housing jade pot plants that not only referenced the fragility of the drivers’ lives, but also their hopes, aspirations and an optimistic opportunity for renewal and change.

Outcome

Eid’s work Rank (2008), a series of taxi dome shells complete with graphs denoting workplace violence devoid of statistics, force us to consider the perilous habitat of taxi drivers and encourage us to question why this data is not collected. While taxis are commonly seen as a commodity or transportation device Eid’s work is a reminder that these drivers are individuals and that their presence transforms an impersonal conduit into a shared moment between strangers. The dome shells were turned upside down filled with jade pot plants and suspended from the gallery ceiling, further domesticating the objects whilst lending them new life.

Utopian Slumps
Laurence Billiet
Georgia Metaxas
Exhibition installation & opening

Photographer: Andrew Lloyd