Turnstile, a project by artist David Wills — — Copyright 2020

Catalogue Essay: Salad Days

Curator Katie Dyer writes about The bucket was on the move.

David Wills' photo-media based work examines the nature of consumer society and mass-consumption. His mass accumulation of photographs look at both images of luxury and the abject that make up our daily intake of visual information. These works make little concession to anything other than the information they report, however, he imposes a museum or scientific-like archiving system over them, called data sets, to imbue them with a significance and weight that might otherwise seem lacking. The photographs accrue incessantly, creating immediate records of people, products and information that ceaselessly travels between us communicating predetermined messages. The laws governing his archival system are initially enacted by chance and are often then ordered into taxonomic categories as though these items demand special classification, for examples mattresses (a series of the ubiquitous mattress discarded on the pavement) or corner shops (at the same time iconic and mundane images of these quintessential Australian buildings). Taken with a digital camera Wills’ has compiled thousands of photographs, starting from 2003, cataloguing them on his website so that hours can be spent weaving between classifications that link ‘celebrities’ to ‘Melbourne’ to ‘bongs’.

Salad Days marks the first time the artist has shown work of this kind with data sets constructed within the exhibition space to form grids that relate to research he has undertaken on the price of acquiring everything that is promoted in women’s magazines within an editorial context. Leaving aside the direct advertising, Wills’ has tallied the costs of shoes, bags, clothes and make-up promoted as the ‘must-haves’ of the season, along with other research on the cost of petrol or fake Louis Vuitton bags. His images prove seductive just as they ask us to consider how complicit we are in endlessly participating in unnecessary consumption.

As part of his ongoing mania for collecting, Wills’ has for years been acquiring familiar and obscure board games from thrift shops. For his project space he has devised an event that will consist of an unruly evening of entertainment, board games and prize giving. This move towards participation with an audience takes its point of departure in a personal, immediate reality creating the work in cooperation with the public.


The Bucket was on the Move