17th – 20th February 2022
Melbourne Art Fair
Emily Floyd’s solo project for Melbourne Art Fair is titled Surplus Labour. The exhibition is named after the term used in political economy to describe that which produces a value beyond what is needed for the subsistence of the worker or workers who perform it. The project draws on sculptural models and speculative propositions generated as “surplus” over two decades of public art practice. Wooden maquettes and full scale prototypes are combined to create an autonomous artwork exploring hybrid possibilities between sculpture and community.
Floyd’s installation is populated by a parliament of philosophical owls, hand carved in wood by the artist as models for a children’s reading pavilion. The word SURPLUS is rendered across seven modular structures upon which the owl figures stand. These sculptures are designed to act as friendly way-finding characters, employed towards the goal of navigating a politics of location.
Owls gesture to the right, the centre, centre-left, centre-right and hard left. One glances at their raised pinion and a thought bubble ensues, “I’m worried about the rise of the right wing…” A book-like stack of philosophical quotations is placed next to each figure, cast in Linotype and encoded in reverse. Each maxim has been carefully curated to help these creatures transcend their polarised public sphere.