Corporate Twitter Apologies Feature at John Fries Award Exhibition

Visual Arts

A list of apologetic tweets from multinational and Australian companies screen-printed on a four-metre long strip of t-shirt fabric is one of the featured exhibits at the 5th John Fries Award Finalists Exhibition, run by Copyright Agency | Viscopy.

The piece, Apologies, challenges the authenticity of corporations on social media, calling into question how sincere their interactions really are.

Somali-Australian artist, Hamishi Farah, who lives in Melbourne, sent a tweet to 50 national and international corporations and received surprisingly similar apologies, before any specifics of his complaint had even been disclosed.

“Instead of querying more about my experience, these large and reputable corporations responded with stock standard concessions, apologising to me for nothing in particular,” Farah says.

“It was easier to elicit admissions of fault than to arouse genuine curiosity about the details of my experience, and I reframed this as a kind of atonement or cultural dissonance.”

When asked what inspired Apologies, Farah says it was more about the frustration he felt when trying to connect to his cultural roots.

“When I was 13, I used to buy long t-shirts I saw in basketball magazines from USA as a way of identifying with a ‘blackness’ I felt was unavailable in suburban Melbourne.

“Looking back, I felt hoodwinked as consumer culture’s shallow aestheticism was my only accessible avenue to black culture. I wanted to exaggerate that by measuring my disappointment in meters of long white t-shirt,” he said.

The works of all finalists are being exhibited at the John Fries Award’s venue partner UNSW Galleries in Paddington, Sydney from now until 6 September. The exhibition features artists from five states and spans painting, sculpture, installation, video and a live performance work.

Melbourne artist Bridie Lunney won the 2014 John Fries Award for her sculptural-performance work, This Endless Becoming, giving her $10,000 in cash to support her next artistic endeavour.

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