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Model citizen exhibition

posted on 2019-01-01, 00:00 authored by Sean RedmondSean Redmond, Darrin Verhagen
Curators Statement: The Model Citizen

The model citizen exhibition is orientated around two intersecting points: how modelling enables artists to reshape and remake the world; and how citizenship is itself crafted out of forms of selfhood and belonging that are represented to be ideal or exemplary. Of course, the question of whom gets to model, and who is included in the pantheon of noble citizens, is related to access and power, to gender and race.

If I am not a citizen, then what am I? If I am an artist without form, then do I melt into air?

In modelling citizenship, each of the artists involved in this exhibition model their art and their understanding of citizenship through a conscious play with scale and size, stillness and movement, sound and silence, and by engaging in a dialogue with the engines of capital and the abstract power that governs our lives. We are modelling citizenship.

The artists involved in this exhibition share similar beliefs: that thinking through making establishes and nourishes the way public life is experienced and understood; that as creative and critical stakeholders, artists have a central role to play in shaping public life; and that through the very act of modelling, creative processes become social practices.

The two aspects of the exhibition title are equally important: the artists desire that through modelling, their art becomes political life; and that citizenship itself needs (re)modelling as it suffers in an age of withering truth.

Are you a model citizen?

More boldly, the exhibition suggests that the time has come to decide what kind of citizens we want to be: do we work alone and for the individual or do we come together as communities of renewal? This exhibition isn’t intended, then, to just creatively comment on the politics and poetics of the model citizen, but to offer up ways of transforming the processes of citizenship itself.

Given the collapse in truth, and the complexities of living in a war-torn age, under the sun of environmental collapse, and the yoke of audit culture, the exhibition may also be a mode of survival, urgently deploying the power of the impossible to stand against the once unthinkable acts taking place in the world. The models on show are not simply theoretical or performative: they are activist in formation.

The hands of Sisyphus, the bodies of dance, the celebrated words of Auden, the post-truth of Trump, surveying data algorithms, the wild Anthropocene, the AI virus, and a gaggle of teetering disembodied newsreaders together haunt the exhibition, as does the spirit of the carnival, and the agency of the artist activist who has decided to model citizenship in new and transformatory ways.

Let me be a citizen who lives without fear. Let me be an artist who knows the truth.

Sean Redmond and Darrin Verhagen



Model Citizen. Exhibition (2019 : Melbourne, Vic.)


Model Citizen Exhibition


RMIT Gallery/RMIT University


Melbourne, Vic.

Place of publication

Melbourne, Vic.

Start date


End date






Publication classification

J2 Minor original creative work

Copyright notice

[2019, RMIT Gallery]



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