Heavy Lifting
Misfit: Collage and Queer Practice,  National Art School, Sydney

Collaging words and phrases from found texts and conversations, Sarah Rodigari plays with and undermines the controls of language. The words engraved in Heavy Lifting represent a textual collage that tease out the paradox of the queer institution. With this site-specific sculpture, Rodigari directs our attention to the traces of institutional history at the National Art School.

Positioned before the original stone walls of Darlinghurst jail, the sculpture sits within a larger collage of textual engravings: blocks of sandstone set in the walls carry inscriptions by the prisoners who cut them. This was a system of keeping count – once a quota was reached, the prisoner would be pardoned. Each block effectively paved one person’s path to freedom while imprisoning another.

Rodigari highlights here the circular operation of institutional power, which relies on the binary forces of detainment and release, exclusion and inclusion. She also reminds us that homosexuality was a criminal offence in New South Wales until 1984: the title Heavy Lifting can allude not only to the queer incarcerated, but to the multigenerational burden of persecution.
Scott Elliot (curatorial text)

Heavy Lifting: Pyrmont Yellowblock, 99 x 95 x 30 cm (H x W x D)  Photos: Peter Morgan,