Jason Wing - People of Substance
25 Jun 2011 - 6 Jul 2011
In celebration of NAIDOC Week 2011 Hazelhurst hosted Jason Wing's exhibition People of Substance.
Jason Wing is of Chinese and Aboriginal heritage, and although much of his work involves dissecting his identity, People of Substance was more broadly concerned with the experience of being human and the universality of substance abuse. It reminded us that drug and alcohol abuse is a by-product of colonisation and that mainstream Australia often overlooks this when examining the contemporary position of Aboriginal Australians. Rather than reinforce negative stereotypes, Jason aims to openly address the issue of addiction in regards to both Aboriginal Torres Strait Island Australia and the wider community.
The exhibition featured new and previously exhibited works, including Blacktown Dreaming, which was exhibited at Blacktown Arts in 2009. The installation of singles beds made from hypodermic needles and spray cans demonstrated Wing’s fearlessness in confronting often taboo issues.
After seven years working as an art therapist in marginalised and disadvantaged communities, Jason remains committed to community consultation and engagement in his art practice. For this body of work the artist spent time talking with addicts, including ‘chromers’ or paint-sniffers. The beds in this exhibition referenced these conversations, imitating the way chromers cough up different coloured paint on their pillows each morning.
Although the work was initially uncomfortable and confronting for viewers, it was imbued with a great sense of hope. Whether working on the street, within community or in the gallery, Jason continually demonstrated an absolute fearlessness and commitment to addressing some of the most significant issues facing contemporary Australia.
Image: Jason Wing, Blacktown Dreaming, 2009 (detail), Acrylic paint, wood, perspex, syringes. Photo by Adam Hollingworth.