January 2007
Carnegie Gallery,
Hobart, Tasmania

Who exactly is the “average person on the street?” Is he or she a Christian, thirty-five year-old, right-of-centre, sport-loving, parent of two who occasionally falls prey to Nigerian Internet scams? Whilst such profiles may be convincingly validated, their plausibility is clearly established by media and statistical practices and consequently, they are indisputably predisposed towards the easily understood and the newsworthy.

Closer scrutiny reveals much irresolution: just who, precisely, is “average?” In increasingly fragmented societies, are we better defined by our similarities or by our differences? Do we cease to exist if ‘nothing happens?’ If not, how do we represent our less noteworthy moments? Does this notional person effectively pierce the anonymous façade of the wider public or does the metaphor limit our sense of community?

Survey is a real-time data collection and presentation exercise that reacts against conventions of reductive and sensationalist visualisations of the community: direct questions are posed about ordinary, everyday affairs, requiring simple, textual responses (such as a listing of the contents of participants’ pockets) and the resulting answers are presented, without modification and in their entirety. The work seeks the individualistic, the reactionary and the idiosyncratic in the mundane, whilst intuitively framing these differences as a portion of the whole. By dissolving the distinction between event and context, correlation and aberration, and between fact and nonsense, Survey ponders on the possibility of a broad perspective without simplistic rationalisation and without a dulled perception of the extraordinary.


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 Survey was developed for the exhibition, Made Public, curated by Paula Silva.