Q&A with Lauren Dunn
My work is 100% motivated by my own experiences of excessive consumption.
For example I made a work about Uber Eats in 2016, it was when Uber had just started out, I found the idea of having restaurant food delivered to the door pretty exciting. The first few months I went hard; Friday night 18 inch pizzas from Pizza Pizza Pizza in the City, Sunday night Indian from Mukka in Fitzroy, Burgers burgers and more burgers from Huxtaburger. I was eating out (but in) more often than ever, the more I ordered the more I felt ashamed and concerned, so I researched their business model. Uber takes a 30% fee of the total food bill from restaurants, at the time if a restaurant wasn’t on Uber Eats they risked loosing potential diners. Small and new restaurants had very little choice in participating if they wanted to stay in the restaurant diners popularity loop. This 30% essentially cornered restaurants into giving away their profit directly to Uber. Uber then ship these profits offshore to the US. Statistics also showed that most inner city Uber Eats customers were located within 3kms of their chosen restaurant. And the most disturbing fact I found was that McDonalds restaurants had a significant increase in sales because of Uber Eats.
As with most of my artworks this combination of excessive consumption, ethical dilemmas and curiosity around cultural behaviours fabricated into a work. I collected as many Uber Eats bags as possible (for me the bag represented ‘the image’ of Uber Eats), shredded them and then photographed it. A cathartic process, I reduced my use of Uber Eats but for me this work mostly represents a mark in time as a significant shift in our culture.
‘New Romanticism’ is a series of photographic print and sculptural works. My main interest lies in the romanticism of popular food specific plant and animal imagery. The title ‘New Romanticism’ sums up the state of being romantic with the image in context to contemporary visual languages around food. I believe the many images we experience during our virtual and physical daily journeys play a precarious role in shaping our consumer desires, this work is about decoding and interrogating these images.
I’ll be exhibiting with PHOTO 2021 independently from the galleries and institutions, this has given me the ability to choose my own site and for the first time really work with a space I see fit for the themes of the artwork. I’m super excited to be revealing the Collingwood site for my exhibition in January 2021.
Images of food and wanting to pick apart these images to satisfy my curiosity about the origins and lifecycle of the food we eat.
I think we have become desensitised to the optical reality of animals and plants manufactured for consumption, my burning question is what is the role photography plays in this deception? For New Romanticism I’m using my practise as a way of examining the authenticity of food images produced for the sale of food, I’m trying to gain a deeper insight into the politics hidden behind the image.
I’m constantly surveying food images, I’ll find one that stands out or speaks to my concerns then recreate or reuse aspects of it. I’ll then print the image, manipulate it, rephotograph it, print it again, re-photograph it again and again till I get to a point where I’m satisfied. There’s a lot of play involved in my studio practise especially in this work. Although the origins of the work always start with an image I often felt a pull towards using other materials that I tried to work with in a way that still references the familiar language of the original image.
I hope they feel visually aroused like when you see a shiny fashion magazine or luscious wet tropical green landscape, I hope they see the language of popular images being decoded and rebuilt, I hope they have a laugh, I hope they respect and contemplate the food they eat with greater political consideration. But realistically I think everyone brings different histories and emotions when viewing artwork, to be honest I’m happy for the audience to take away whatever they identify with.
Thats so tough, I struggle to put sound to this work but what seems to be consistently coming to mind are the classical compositions in my favourite Lars Van Triers film Nymphomaniac, this film is a huge resource of inspiration for me. I like the way traditional classical music coupled with contemporary imagery can create contrast, anticipation and deep emotion.
Yvonne Todd for sure [in Garden Variety: Photography, Politics and the Picturesque], her clever blend of sarcasm and the grotesque is a language that photography can like no other truely penetrate. I hope I can pull off work at this level some day, I think we are interested in similar themes such as repositioning popular images and using humour as a tool for play but the end result is visually very different.
And more locally I’ m also really looking forward to Kiron Robinson’s group show Not for the Sake of Something More at Sarah Scout Presents, I enjoy his persistence in questioning photography.
It’s ok to be gay and don’t eat McDonalds.