Scoop catches up with talented artist, writer and performer Taylor Reudavey, as she explains how her experiences with unemployment inspired her latest exhibition I Know How Hard It Can Get.
When Taylor Reudavey speaks about her first trip to the Job Centre in Victoria Park, she doesn’t tell me about a life-changing or meaningful experience – the thing that sticks in her mind is the overcrowded waiting room. ‘I actually had to sit on the floor,’ she says. ‘There might be animation on a screen in the waiting room showing all these inspirational quotes, but then there’s not enough seats for everyone to sit on. There’s a discrepancy between what the programme is intending to do and what the reality is.’
The physical space of an unemployment centre is one of the key themes in the Curtin graduate’s upcoming exhibition. Her multimedia installation will include a fictional documentary, parliament footage and an audio piece that work together to ‘recreate the emotional atmosphere of the place and present conflicting ideologies’.
Recreating that clash between high expectations and bleak reality is, she hopes, a way to promote the need for real change in Australia’s welfare system.
The artist describes the exhibition as her most ambitious to date, as she tackles the widespread issue of Australian unemployment head on. Job centres and government-run programmes are promising to deliver support and advice, but Taylor believes there’s a certain ideology around unemployment that needs to be challenged. ‘The attitude is if you’re on welfare, it’s your own fault and you need to get out of it,’ she says.
What does the artist hope people will take from her latest work? ‘It might be wishful thinking’, Taylor says, ‘but I’d like people to think a bit more about what they can do to really fight back, or at least be critical of the direction that our welfare system is moving towards.’
She doesn’t intend for the exhibition to be all doom and gloom, though. She describes it as ‘humorous and playful – in a devastatingly funny sort of way’ and hopes people can really relate to the issues she’s putting forward. ‘Even though I’m presenting my individual experience here, it’s a collective experience as well. I’m hoping that I can have lots of really interesting conversations with people at the exhibition, because everyone’s got a Centrelink horror story.’ She’ll be in attendance at the exhibition on opening night, Friday September 8 between 8 and 6pm so come and share your story.
I Know How Hard It Can Get is showing at Moana Project Space, 618 Hay St Perth, from September 8 – 30. Find out more.