Paradise Life

“‘This isn’t just a shopping mall. It’s more like a...’ ‘religious

experience?’ ‘Exactly! It’s like going to church. And here you can

go every day and you get something to take home.’”


The In Paradise body of work seeks to illuminate and critique the

system of consumerism pervasive in our contemporary society. It

is a system which entices with empty promises of the “good life”

through acquiring more, and pursuing a life of luxury and

contentment. Advertising and culture stimulate dramas of desire

for the next new product or service but since reality can never

match our fantasies, the seduction and cycle of consumption is

repeated. Lacan’s “I desire, therefore I am” now becomes “I shop,

therefore I am.” The true cost of this system, exploits,

discriminates against and destroys people and the natural world.

Animal characters, as stand-ins, are employed as a means to frame

and express emotions and ideas about human identity. Simulacra

of nature is standard equipment in every mall. The palm tree is not

only a signifier of nature, but also of vacation, exoticism and

affluence, frequently included in the interior spaces of the modern

shopping mall.

Junk Space (Architectures of Commerce) # 1-6, 2018. Acrylic

on Canvas. The central motif for this series of work in paint and

screen print, is the Westfield Mall that is under construction in

Newmarket. Fresh colours and metallics infuse a sense of the

sublime around these architectures of consumption, that writer

Katya Eichinger concludes are the new church’s of the suburbs.

Through my work I offer an invitation to rest, play and

contemplate, to resist being co-opted by the empire, and the

courage to step out from within it’s grasp.

Karen Sewell