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Camille Cargill
"The Great Australian Dream"
Text by Loni Jeffs
2018

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Camille Cargill
The Great Australian Dream
28.11.18—22.12.18

In The Great Australian Dream Camille critiques
colloquial Australia for its paternally guided
ideologies. Moving through centuries, the work
begins with classical representations of the
‘ideal’ Western woman and arrives at the ruins
of paternal systems.

Camille plays with binaries, exaggerating
and abstracting them to show paternity
and other male-orientated systems as polar
to the feminine. Showcasing the inevitable
outcome of male dominance, as it takes form
in abandonment, foreclosure, and void. A
specialisation in the construction of dead space.
The continuation of silence.

Infrastructure, homes, roads, public spaces -
these are the structures traditionally designed
and built by male hands. Space-taking,
dictating. Erected.

The images in The Great Australian Dream
document this system. These are commercial
spaces, designed by men as a means to sell
things to their ideal consumer - woman. It’s a
familiar dynamic, where society has presumed
to know what women desire, and resultantly
constructed something without use for any
community. The space, reflecting this lack of
consideration, is empty.

Contrasting the cold and concrete imagery is a pink,
transparent detail taken from the crotch of Venus
de Milo. Camille’s practice returns to traditional
representations of this goddess and rehouses them in
21st century landscapes. The archetype of female form,
Venus traditionally represents ideals of beauty and
femininity. In laying a detail of Venus’ drapery over the
barren landscape, Camille forms a distinction between
the feminine and the masculine, between the rigidity
of cages and the ongoing fluidity of the matriarchal.

Despite her cultural significance, Venus’ image is still
shaped by male interests. Consider her appearance in
The Simpsons as a gummy lolly, where she is desired,
taken and then literally consumed by Homer. German
Focus published a doctored image of the statue raising
her middle finger to Europe. Salvador Dali famously
added drawers and affixed pom poms to his plaster
version of the goddess. Likewise theories of her missing
arms are continually appropriated. The latest 3D
Mapped theory - spinning thread - an activity which
associates her with sex work and the endless task of
alluring men. As the Western world’s goddess of sex
and fertility, the image of Venus maintains its power
as the emblematic woman. In Men Are from Mars, Women
Are from Venus, the author refers to women under the
term Venusians. Assuming that all women can be
gathered in her namesake, that all wives are exactly
the same in their wants, needs and desires.

The treatment of her image, history and body is
representational of the ways in which Western society
has dictated, written and critiqued women as a whole.
A popular brand of razor bears her name, suggesting
that use of their product will ensure a goddess-like
result. This is the most enduring (damaging) quality
of Venus; her desirability. It accounts for sex appeal as
a means to sell female beauty products and clothing.
And for the media’s use of eurocentric women as
representation of beauty norms, an equally damaging
notion which further marginalises those women
outside of this unrealistic mould.

In an act of defiance the works in The Great
Australian Dream take the form of protest posters.
Conventionally a transient form, these posters span
milenia. Moving from 100BC to present day, they are
bolted to the wall in an act of authority, announcing
their criticism of the dead space. Blaming the
paternal system for its creation of such decay.
The closed doorways and roller shutters usually
signify the end of a day’s spending, their ongoing
permanence turns this space into a modern day ruin.
The image of redundancy, lost resources and dead
space.

As a pinnacle construction of Western society,
the shopping centre becomes the monument of
the 21st century. Designed and constructed by
male minds, these concrete masses have come to
obstruct the suburban landscape. In opposition to
the shopping centre, Venus de Milo is masterfully
carved, enduring, her Grecian marble form is an icon
of classical culture. She, in her variant forms, seems
everlasting.

So long as this key representation of ideal female
form is dictated by the masculine, the ability for a
definition of woman to expand beyond the current
mode, remains stunted. In recognising the failure
of this physical space, it is possible to also recognise
the female form as being misconstructed by the
hands of paternity. Camille’s protest posters call for
a disruption of this power-down dynamic, a system
which has long silenced those in the minority.
Loni Jeffs, 2018

Camille Cargill is a multi-disciplinary artist with a gentle
lean towards printmaking. She is a recent graduate
of the Bachelor of Visual Arts at Monash University;
during which she was awarded the KINGS Artist-Run
Initiative Award and 5 Press Art Award for her graduate
work. Her work interrogates the consumption, creation
and presence of the female unit as she’s translated
into and across visual and verbal language throughout
time. Camille has exhibited work in the PCA Print
Commission, Sydney Contemporary, HobART Book Fair
and KINGS Artist-Run.

Loni Jeffs is a writer and editor based in Melbourne.
She has worked with a number of organisations
including George Paton Gallery, Australian Centre for
Contemporary Art (ACCA) and RMIT’s non/fictionLab,
among others. Loni was included in the KINGS
Emerging Writers’ Program for 2018.

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