Art We Heart: Get To Work
August 24th 2016
Art has a long history of romanticising the pacific. Get To Work want to take back the power of representation.
Get To Work’s art comes from their lived experience. Between them, the trio (Georgia Taia, Paris Taia and Tracy Quan) have a mixed bag of culture to call upon. While they all grew up in Australia, their heritage spans across the Pacific Islands, Europe and China. At times they feel a sense of belonging to Australia, other times they feel exoticised. Stereotypes stick, even though they all grew up a long way from pacific traditions.
Using dance, performance and video; Get To Work blend pop culture and Pacific Island traditions, where there is both connection and disconnect. They use pop cultural references to pick up themes of ‘otherness’ and how it is gobbled up today. They highlight the absurdity of the stereotypes Pacific Islanders are associated with.
After studying at the SCA, the collective focused on creating works that reflect the stereotyping and profiling they often encounter, both as artists and as culturally diverse women. Get To Work draw upon these common experiences shared between them, whilst looking toward new directions of hybridised identities.
Dance is central to their practice. Get To Work adapt pop video clips, speaking to their own unique experience of culture and identity. There is an air of familiarity to their work: it’s playful and easily relatable. It encourages you to engage with their work continuously – and really, it’s hard not to.
This playfulness is what differentiates them from other artists that are attempting to tackle issues of identity. In the group’s first work, Get 2 Work, shown in 2015 at Merry Crisis Gallery, they created a video clip style performance. Instead of using sensual and erotic dance moves as filler, as music videos often do, they used awkward moves, portraying a lack of understanding and gaps in cultural knowledge. This work saw them literally ‘dance around’ the issue of cultural identity in an attempt to make sense of their own.
Their work D4U takes the choreography from Beyoncé’s video, ‘Dance for You‘, and performs it in the Solomon Islands as a critique of the exoticism of Pacific cultures. The original clip, if you’re not familiar, sees Beyoncé perform a sensual dance for a white male. D4U recontextualises this performance, playing the sensual dance as their own traditional one. It positions the audience as participating in the western gaze, as the scene is filmed by a drone.
Get To Work’s latest piece, NSFW curated by Jenny Anagnostópoulos, is a series of video and installation works set in a subverted office landscape, filled with hyper sexualised and hybridised figures. You can see NSFW it at Firstdraft throughout September.
Get 2 Work, Merry Crisis, 2015
Performance at ‘after pARTY’, February 2016
Making History, Sydney Biennial, 2016
Mysterious Girls, 2016
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WHAT: NSFW by Get To Work
WHEN: September 7 – September 30
HOW MUCH: Free
FBi’s Arts & Culture executive producer.Read more from Nerida Ross