Giant Badges

01 January – 10 September 2022

Barrack St, Sydney

For Barrack Street I decided it would be a great idea to mount some of my Giant Badges onto lampposts and make them appear to be like giant lollipops planted above the heads of people walking by. The badges also needed to be printed with archival inks to survive the outdoor conditions. This gave me a fresh opportunity to respond directly to a shift in the nature of the course of the pandemic.

This was, after all, a commission from the City of Sydney responding to the problem and a way of inhabiting the city again after a period of lock-down and isolation. (I never imagined when I started this series in mid 2019 that some of the apocalyptic themes in the works would be coming to visit us for real.

The artworks are based on sci-fi books, films, badges and text that prompt a memory jog from a previous political or cultural moment and seem to carry a disproportionate amount of nostalgia into the present time. I had been reading a lot of post-apocyliptic and historical future guessing material, and some how it all seemd very pertinant.

Much of my work draws on archival materials that articulate imagined futures and the sources for “Giant Badges” span apocalyptic sci-fi films, pop- and counter-culture. They speak directly to the uncanniness of how the climate and public-health emergencies we have been living through in 2020 have been prefigured for decades to the point that our current reality perhaps feels stranger than science fiction. Slogans such as “Future Shock” signal the psychological states individually and collectively the emergencies have propelled us into and how deeply unsettling the rapidity of change has been.

The fun, candy-colours, bold fonts and simple graphics will make the artworks seemingly pop out in the laneways, catching the eye of passers-by. They will read as badges on first glance, despite their huge scale. In Noelle Faulkner’s “Giant Badges” essay she emphasizes that the badge, unlike a stamp, does not centre itself on the act of creation, only the message it glorifies. The badge imbues the wearer with an inordinate amount of meaning. In this project, it will be a city laneway wearing the badges, celebrating the ethos of more social, creative and cultural times past and our longing for them to return again.

Photos and video: Felipe Olivares