Not my autobiography?
How can a person rebel against the legacies and conditions that shape the cultural framework/s of their very thought and action? To what extent can we really untether ourselves from habits of culture, taste, gender, memory and experience? If we position ourselves as complicit in what has been, what is unfolding, and what will come, is healing possible?
In Not my autobiography? personal and collective markers of identity are fragmented, rearranged and made incoherent. The collages are made from lifestyle/fashion magazines. The 'autobiography' could be seen as the Frankenstein child of House & Garden and Vogue Living. Aspirational white culture comes under playful critique, and yet the title Not my autobiography? features a question mark. And while a pyromaniac memoir does sound like something you might want to evade and disassociate from, as much as you might want to denounce a House & Garden parent, the ‘fiery temperament’ of Rachel O’s so-called autobiography is a nod to the underground fires that occurred in the area where the artist grew up in the Waikato, an ongoing legacy of colonisation that is discussed in more detail in the video.
This work is discussed in an essay by Thomasin Sleigh, 2020.
Commissioned by CIRCUIT and Wellington City Council for Masons Screen