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Sex and the city will save you

06 Aug 2019

Sex and the city will save you Image

By Rhonda Dredge

The quirky imagination of art student Kaijern Koo stood out last month among the finalists for the Majlis $15,000 travelling scholarship.

15 third-year students from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) were in the running.

Kaijern didn’t win but her philosophical paintings performed their rituals to an appreciative audience.

The sensitive 20-year-old from Adelaide finds Melbourne overwhelming. “People are restless here. Everyone is trying to grab your attention.”

Sometimes she seeks solace in Sex and the City re-runs.

“I love that show. It’s an image of simplicity. Carrie Bradshaw is like a god, someone to turn to when everything else is confusing.”

Kaijern likes the character of Carrie not because she is sexy or gets to wear great clothes but because she is omniscient. She deals with life’s vicissitudes with a voice-over that turns them into a compelling story.

In her painting Sex and the city will save you, Kaijern uses a graphic style to represent Carrie at her laptop in her lounge room where she writes her column.

In the lower part of the painting are sketchy images of the city with all kinds of mindfulness and horoscope sayings people tell each other to keep on track such as “fill your mouth with marigolds”.

‘They try and offer wisdom but they don’t make sense,” Kaijern said.

Her paintings are a way of finding certainty in a world that feels unstable.

“I hope to track these things that are overwhelming. I like to juxtapose the chaotic with the still.”

In Every morning I rearrange our toothbrushes so we stay happy she has outlined the simple, straightforward images of the toothbrushes as a form of voodoo.

“You have to arrange the toothbrushes in a certain way so that life will emulate them.”

Her work provides insights into the reasons one might perform these toothbrush rituals. “If I see they’ve been disturbed I have to put them back. It’s a small opportunity for control over fate.”

She denies that her paintings provide solutions for some of life’s existential problems. “They’re quasi-solutions.”

If she’d won the scholarship she wanted to visit the Hungry Ghost festival in Hong Kong where the dead are allowed back among the living. Rituals and offerings are given so they don’t meddle.

“They put food out for the dead so they’ll be appeased and don’t bring bad fortune. Ghosts are a magnification of regrets with old loved ones.”

She praised Francis Carmody who won the Majlis scholarship for her video Waiting for Tear Gas. The award was presented by Angela Wood at the Margaret Lawrence Gallery.

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