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Artist as Dead Weight, by Linda Ogonowski, 2018
12 May 2018

Media: super sculpey, beige and black stockings, dress pins

Artist's Statement from the Onion Reality Exhibition

This work is an argument for the urgent implementation of a universal income system. Mikala Dwyer’s, Costumes, initially inspired me to create a puppet to reflect the deprivation of personal agency and purpose ‘differently-abled’ people are subjected to within Australia’s welfare system. Dwyer’s Square Cloud Compound, touched on the way abstract systems/ideologies shape us and our environment (at times violently). I used knotted and stretched stockings to symbolise the lengths to which ‘disabled’ and neurodivergent people are expected to contort themselves in order to pass as acceptable and be seen as valuable contributors to our society. The use of monochrome stockings symbolises the rigid, staid, economic rationalist way of thinking, and the hand and foot are here anchored by the stockings to this ideology.

The sculpted hand represents both great creative potential but also the stifling of that power in order to type an infinite number of fruitless job applications over a decade. The dress pins in the sculpted hand represents a form of voodoo performed by government and also actual numbness in that part of the hand due to acquired ulnar nerve compression, which can result from repeated use of a computer. The deformed big toe of the foot is due to acquired mechanical arthritis, which resulted from bullying in an abusive workplace. 

This piece is also about healing. From a previously unformed, inert lump of modelling clay, the process of artistic creation has imbued this broken body and spirit with new life.


Artist as Dead Weight, by Linda Ogonowski, 2018, was exhibited at the Onion Reality exhibition at Front Up, 9 – 11 Rowley Street, Seven Hills, NSW, from 27 February to 3 March, 2018. Linda was a participant in the Emerge 2017 program supported by Ability Options, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Accessible Arts. It is funded by Ability Options, the Packer Family Foundation and Crown Resorts Foundation. The program is focused on supporting practicing artists with disability.

For more on the work of Linda Ogonowski, please visit her Facebook page.

Access Art Disability Inclusion
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