I'VE BEEN TO PARADISE BUT I'VE NEVER BEEN TO ME
Located somewhere between Cindy Sherman, Joan Rivers and Matisse; Celeste Mountjoy (known most commonly by the alias ‘FilthyRatBag’) is a Melbourne based visual artist and writer at the helm of a practice as caustic as it is sensitive. Working primarily (though not exclusively) with rudimentary office stationary and digital mediums, Mountjoy fuses a barebones approach to line work with shards of text which range from the autobiographical to the culturally critical - choosing systematised misogyny, coming-of-age cliché’s and digital alienation as her targets.
‘I’ve Been To Paradise But I’ve Never Been To Me’ is Mountjoy’s first solo exhibition, a collection of work created over the past ten months; spanning several canvases, drawings and a handful of audio-visual works. The title of the exhibition, lifted from late 70’s FM radio titan Charlene’s ‘I’ve Never Been To Me’ rips the conservative ethos of the song loose from it’s moorings. Initially a lament for an idealised life of domesticity lost in the pursuit of bodily pleasures, the song’s main refrain, written by male songwriting duo Miller & Hirsch, is here re-appropriated to evoke the experience of growing as a woman in the dawn of a new century under the instruction of frameworks created by people who would not have to live through it.
Given Mountjoy’s age (18) it is not surprising that her work also takes as its subject human nature’s struggle against its own chaotic creation, the hyper-connectivity afforded by the internet. Rather than grieve its ills or paint it in awe, Mountjoy prods at the inevitable archetypes and binaries created by the echo chambers of message boards, vote-in polls and pornography. Aspiring for a model of womanhood miniaturised and made into a consumer cliche, Mountjoy’s women struggle against or are magnetically absorbed into the gendered frameworks promised to them by the various utopias of the internet, both those of motherhood and those of whoredom.