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Coup de Soleil
Commissioned for 'Build me a City', curated by Vivonne Thwaites and Christine Garnaut
PLACE 2012, Adelaide Architecture Biennale
Australian Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide
'M is for Morning, for Margaret and Me', extract
570-page, three-part book produced for 'Coup de Soleil'
Coup de Soleil tells the story of Margaret Toban, an 18-year old woman who suffers a case of sunstroke and is committed first of all to the Migrant Centre and then to the lunatic cells at Adelaide Gaol, where she tends the nearby olive groves with the other prisoners, orphans and lunatics.
Commissioned as a work that might engage with Adelaide's architectural history, this work plots the unfolding of the foundations of Adelaide's North Terrace. Walking from east to west, this unseen plan can be charted as the major institutions reveal the logic of 'civilisation' and the ordering of human life. In the east, where the sun rises each day, are the institutions of hope and recuperation: the infectious diseases hospital, the water purification plant, the botanical gardens. In the west, where the sun sets beyond the horizon, are the wastelands: the dumping ground, the slaughterhouse, the native camp and the gaol.
Adelaide is famous for its olive groves. And in another strange dimension of the new world, the city pursued a mediterrean dream, a land flowing with rich resources and the golden hope of soothing olive oil. Aland where the sun never burns but heals the European body and soul. On this dream, the city planted more than 2000 olive trees between the 1830 and 1870s. Labour was impossible to find, and it was ultimately the Gaol's project, as they foundd the first and largest industrial oil press in Australia, using the labour of prisoners, lunatics and orphans to tend and harvest the trees. Was Margaret one of these workers?Did she bear oil stains as she endlessly collected those olives?
Margaret's tale and the foundations of this strange future city of Adelaide are documented across a four-part installation. This features an A3 photo essay bound in three volumes that tells the story of my making of the work alongside Margaret's tale, a font of olive oil recently harvested from the original Gaol plantation with an overlaid eclipse projection, three illuminated sunhats made from copies of site documents, and a series of large posters that enlarge specific images from this invented past-future archive.