- Media category
- Materials used
- pink powder-coated, bent mild steel gate
230.0 x 130.0 cm approx. overall
a - Settlement # 4, 1, 171.5 x 70 x 1.7 cm, (irreg.) dims; left gate with text 'OCCUP'
b - Settlement # 4, 2, 171.5 x 70 x 1.7 cm, (irreg.) dims; right gate with text 'ATION'
c - Settlement # 4, 3, 46 x 40 x 1 cm, (irreg.) dims; left flag
d - Settlement # 4, 4, 46 x 44.5 x 1 cm, (irreg.) dims; right flag
- Purchased with funds provided by the Contemporary Collection Benefactors 2021
- 20th-century galleries (lower level 1)
- Accession number
- © Elvis Richardson
- Artist information
Works in the collection
In her innovative conceptual and interdisciplinary practice, Elvis Richardson transforms found objects and imagery, including information gathered from public record sources, into succinct and often assertively political statements. Her works reposition kitsch imagery within a formalist aesthetic to explore varied expressions of memorialisation and the mechanics of collective iconography. Through a process of reappraisal and reconstruction, Richardson instils new meaning upon the raw materials she collects to tell stories that amplify the minutiae of daily life.
The politics of home ownership have long preoccupied Richardson. Questions around who gets to have a home, whether purchased or rented, are not only implicated in histories of class and capitalism but defined by them. 'Settlement #4' extends Richardson’s interrogation of this theme, inflecting it with an awareness of how the Covid-19 pandemic has shaped and further problematised the notion of home. As Richardson states, ‘Over the past year the notion of a place to call home – somewhere that’s comfortable, private and secure – has been under a continual spotlight…During that time there was a temporary moratorium on evictions, temporary housing for the homeless and temporary doubling of unemployment allowances.’ It took a global pandemic and ideas about working from home, isolating at home and the simple need to stay at home for the sake of public health for housing to be seen as a fundamental need.
'Settlement #4' is made from a found residential exterior gate that the artist has modified and painted bubble gum pink. The word ‘occupation’ is branded across the centre of the gate, extending outwards from its posts, while the two flags that sit atop the gate have been inscribed with the word ‘settlement’. From a distance, the sculpture appears playful, its vibrant pink colour inviting, but upon closer observation we realise that this gate is not welcoming but exclusionary. It marks a clear barrier between public and private space, asserting the demarcation between ownership and non-ownership. The words ‘settlement’ and ‘occupation’ also prompt the viewer to confront the politics of possession in a colonial context. Richardson explains, ‘…we are living on stolen lands…To me, the word ‘settlement’ is about colony and empire and expansionism, hence the heraldic style flags. Whereas ‘occupation’ is the means or the action of colonisation…’ The gate is a saccharine and subversive symbol of the ongoing state of colonial occupation in Australia.
Shown in 1 exhibition
20th-Century galleries Rehang (Lower Level 1), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Aug 2022–2023