In the battle to save Sydney’s soul Wendy Murray’s posters act as field markers of the often invisible edges of the privatisation of public life: displacement, exclusion and homogeneity. She contributes to the growing field of contemporary art practice that fights against the erosion of civil and human rights — actions that Istanbul Biennial curator Hanru Hou called ‘Not Only Possible, But Also Necessary: Optimism in the Age of Global War’ (2007). The exhibition’s stark signature print Sydney — We Need to Talk! says it all: people move up and down a fragile network of staircases threatened by a Jurassic background of building cranes.
In 2018 Murray was inaugural Printer in Residence at Fisher Library, University of Sydney, an 8-week residency where she published Sydney We Need to Talk! (a 56 page collection of short interventions and 8 collaborative essays about the politics of urbanisation with activist staff) and began the works now on exhibition.
The paradox of public spaces is that they are now the ‘wrong places’ (Doherty, 2015) as they lie beyond the narrative structure and prompts of capital. The first world city works to eliminate wrong places — the places where we can relax, look at trees and gardens, meet and gather. The focus is on ‘activating’ our sense of consumer-self, reflecting back a picture of a non-threatening, grounded identity — a world of shopping malls and official public and entertainment precincts with mirrored walls where reflections can be admired.
Saturday 9 February: Sydney East Art Walk, 12 to 4pm