Sydney based artist Jason Wing has both Indigenous and Chinese background. He thinks the isolation under the pandemic has been a validating time and encouraged more hands-on art practice. The journal started with a carved title “COVID 17-70”, presenting Jason’s blueprint illustrations and slogans as if it was “to scribble a placard on the way to a protest”. Jason reflected on Black Lives Matter with introspective Indigeneity.
“Let’s be clear, we said Black Lives Matter. We never said only Black Lives Matter. That was the media. Not us.”
We asked Jason three questions about his experience of isolation, completing this journal and his hope for the future. These are his responses:
Describe the experience of the period of isolation for you.
Isolation has encouraged more hand-made and more drawing in my arts practice. It has been a validating time for artists as we are the first to survive as these economic conditions are familiar to us. We have always thrived despite financial and social marginalization. It has levelled the playing field by forcing people to live like an artist and walk a mile in our shoes.
What does your book represent and how did you approach the challenge?
My artist book Covid 17-70 reflects a 24-hour sketchbook referencing my social media pages during the initial COVID phase. The premise of the artist book is to create a placard like approach by limiting the amount of time to produce it is akin to scribbling a placard on the way to a protest. The conceptual part is that the illustrations are a blueprint designed by colonial architects and rolled out in most countries around the world arguably since and before the Roman Empire until the present day.
My deepest concern is the unethical, immoral, non-transparent, subjective, litigious, and complete control of human movements. I fear how subjective control of COVID-19 laws will be used to further control humanity and the ongoing struggle for human rights especially for minority groups.
What do you hope will change in Australia as a result of the pandemic?
I hope that people open their eyes and critical minds and not believe the propaganda as it is a gateway for human rights violations.
I hope people inquire about the implications of the new restrictive laws and how they will divide us and be used against us further.
I hope that people see this as an evolution of digital control which we are all victims. We must accept that we have lost all human rights regarding digital privacy.
I hope that people who now face similar challenging conditions artists have always faced, finding a newfound appreciation for artists and arts workers.
I hope people will now be more sympathetic to people on income management by the Government.
I hope that everything gets reassessed and new models of working and living evolve.
I hope Australia focusses on a genuine, authentic, ongoing funding and support for its greatest internal unique asset, Aboriginal culture.
I want to make a link that violent intentions and forced control of Aboriginal people started with the Gweagal shield and before the invading colony set foot on land. This colonial violence ripples and echoes today with current ongoing protest including the recent record-breaking Black Lives Matter Rally in Sydney recently. The Government tried to make protesting illegal. They failed the first time now they are altering the law and now the recent protest has been shut down by police whilst the Prime minister publicly gloats that he will not miss out on a football match breaching all COVID regulations. This is in stark contrasted to a Black Lives Matter protest where all COVID requirements were adhered to and it still was shut down. Aboriginal people have experienced to double standards of subjective and pernicious laws. now non-Aboriginal people are experiencing a small taste. Look how fast we comply. This is the perfect time to disrupt and make changes for the better.
Jason Wing is an Australian artist who celebrates his mixed cultural background in his art practice. His father is Chinese, and his mother is an Aboriginal woman from the Biripi people in the Upper Hunter region of New South Wales, Australia.
Jason Wing has steadily emerged as an artist who explores issues of bi-culturalism, indigenous rights and political identity. Along with environmental awareness and spirituality with a streetwise flair and strong commitment to community engagement. His work represents his journey into his cultural background to reconcile his Aboriginal and Chinese roots.
Jason uses traditional earth-based colours – red, yellow and black – which are significant colours in both Aboriginal and Chinese traditions. And his technique of stencilling represents a link to the traditional visual mark makings of his Aboriginal heritage as well as street art.
Jason is a graduate of the Sydney College of the Arts and Sydney Graphics College. In 2009 he was a finalist for the Royal Bank of Scotland Emerging Art Prize and the NSW Parliament Indigenous Prize.
View Jason Wing's journal here:
Image: Jason Wing, Design/Isolate Journal (detail), 2020.