"1. Body modification is not a recent manifestation of modern performance art, it has a 50 year history that can easily be traced.
2. Branding originates from a ritualistic tribal practise traditionally used to mark a rite of passage facilitating the journey from one life stage to another (typically into adulthood). A recognized and respected tradition, the individual undertaking a rite of passage was supported by the others in the community in order to be able to cope with the trials of such a process. It was an opportunity for celebration, and was regarded as a milestone in the life of the community and above all of the individual.
Essentially the branding for me was an opportunity to externalise the pain that so many people feel, for those that are trapped in a system that they are not capable of escaping. It explicitly references so much that it seems redundant to even express a position about amongst other things: prison camps, slavery etc
Many people have expressed disgust at the knowledge that I have received payments from Centrelink. Statistics from the Centrelink website state that they serve 6.5 million customers, that’s one-third of the Australian population whose stories are entirely unknown. Here’s a graph of the Australian population:
Is the work a lesser piece of art because of my intimate knowledge? If the work had been made by someone who worked at Centrelink it seems to me that they would not be labelled as an artist but rather a social crusader. And if I was neither a recipient or an administrator what qualifies me to make such a work at all? I would be merely meddling, taking an issue at hand and making art, like a first year university student enrolled in ART POLITICS 101.
People have said that my willingness to undergo such suffering is a testament to my dedication, but I do not equate the pain I experienced to artistic integrity.
I do not play a character in my work. I am not a blank slate. I bring with me histories, flaws, pains and joys. I am first and foremost myself: a human being."