Using online real-estate search engines Richardson was immediately attracted to the central role that photography played and what is unintentionally revealed. Settlement is not about kitchen countertops, bathrooms sinks and lounge rooms professionally staged for wide angled perspectives with mood lighting and a fresh coat of paint. Settlement represents the ordinary, the elderly, the low income and the regional whose lifestyles are now being re-packaged for investment consumption.
Writer Melinda Rackham says of Richardson’s work:
“Selected via For Sale search criteria results for ‘2 bedroom house’, ‘less than $250,000’ ‘anywhere in Australia’, these flat, low resolution, mostly amateur images are surprisingly powerful. Posted over an 18-month period without comment, they elicited a range of responses from nostalgia for childhood familiarity, humour with a touch of moral judgement; empathy for the embedded tragedy; to tenancy enquiries and critiques of disruption and movement in late neoliberal capitalism.”
Sites: Front fences of domestic homes around Kyneton
Artist Lifestyle presented machine-style, hand-painted, enamel on aluminium, for shiny, capitalist marketing promises, both a sales pitch and a word of warning, depending on the target audience.
Is the artist lifestyle for you? Anagrams of Artist Lifestyle feature on each panel and together mysteriously unpack a hidden truthfulness, underlying expectations and assumed promises within its self-referential reshuffled letters. The words generated seem to speak directly to the contested social and economic value of art and the role of being an artist today. Artist Lifestyle questions how personal, civic and national identity are formulated around artistic acts, objects and events.
Artist Lifestyle, installed like real estate signs, comments on the global phenomenon of gentrification – a localised form of colonialism where economically disadvantaged residents are forced to move out of neighbourhoods and communities they contributed to developing, in order to accommodate a new set of property owners. The artists’ implication in the process of gentrification is like a beacon to property investors and developers to make their move.
Elvis Richardson is an interdisciplinary artist whose conceptual practice explores social modes of recognition and memorialisation. Richardson re-values found and obsolete personal and massproduced objects and images and uses them to reconstruct stories of ambition and abandonment, public recognition and private nostalgia.
Richardson lives and works in Melbourne.
Kyneton Contemporary Inc acknowledges the support of Creative Victoria in making this project possible.
We also acknowledge the generosity of Margaret Chandra who enabled this project to be presented. And the many wonderful people who allowed their fences to support the work.