Exhibition Essays

Number Nine Reviews

December 2002

I AM: Package review

Suraya Singh

Clem Devine's self-curated and fully-catalogued collection of his own belonging's I AM seems to examine the extent to which possessions are seen to evaluate the self; tacitly conveying identity, member ship of a group, ethics, ideas and lifestyles.

Each item is catalogued and labelled with purchase price, intended use, personal significance, and an evaluation of actual worth according to its owner.

The charming and irking unedited grammar chaos of Devine's labelling suggests a certain spontaneity. Then, knowing that over the course of the exhibition, articles will come and go, the inherent analysis involved in self-curation is surely incongruous with any premise of spontaneity. Similarly, the fetid seething worm of marketing that shows us how to fill our inner emptiness with ‘stuff' is anything but spontaneous. Even still, I would hazard a guess that personal significance of time and place pierces the few belongings of even the most ardent minimalist.

If the marketing machine molests a common human experience to sell us stuff to iconise identity, then in this modern world Devine's curation must beg us to judge the book of his life by its cover. What does the artist's coffee table say about him as a person? What does he want it to say? What does my coffee table say about me? Is my coffee table as cool as Clem Devine's? The mind boggles, but more importantly, it leaves the gallery wondering, where is the soul to match its cell phone cover.