Another day another existential crisis, with phrases like this embedded in her work it is impossible not to smile at the wit infused Dymo creations of Melbourne based artist Savina Hopkins. As part of a recent exhibition at Red Gallery for the Midsumma Festival, Hopkins created a suite of works from embossed vinyl Dymo labels, (the original type that is, none of this new fan-dangled digital business) stuck to old cardboard folders and suspension files. When not raiding rapidly declining old-school stationary suppliers, Hopkins is keenly attuned to the pithy one-liners and notable quotables that are frequently bandied about, often without a second thought.
In this context however her use of phrases assembled to shape various folks’ heads in profile, much like Victorian cameo pieces of yesteryear, cannot help but issue a deeper resonance beyond the instantly appealing retro aesthetic. These works draw our attention to how the words we say communicate more than we often intend about who we are, our values, ideas, what we think about our place in the world, and as such they touch on that most nebulous concept of personal identity. In doing so this series is quite revealing in its humour, albeit the kind of black humour which is particularly enjoyable. Like getting drunk and jovial at a wake despite being grief-stricken, it’s a bit of a fuck you to the dark unknowables of life.
This series also serves as a reminder of technological obsolescence, and the inherent irony in the fact that we now enjoy the aesthetic of wonky vintage lettering and musty pastel folders in objects that were once just signifiers of mediocrity. One trait that these intimate little mixed media works are anything but.