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"Every Kind of Shape" 2019

Wall text

Wall text

Kenny Pittock 
Born 1988, Vic.

Lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne, Vic.

Pronouns: he/him.

"Every Kind of Shape (Barbecue, Pizza, Chicken Crimpy, Savoury, Cheddar, Cheese & Bacon, Sour Cream & Chives, Tasty Cheddar & Chives, Balsamic Vinegar & Sea Salt, Thai Chilli & Garlic Sauce, Sweet Chilli & Sour Cream, Vegemite & Cheese)" 2019
 

acrylic on ceramic

Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2019
 

Every Kind of Shape features 16 intricate ceramic sculptures replicating the iconic Arnott’s ‘Shapes’ biscuits, a staple snack in household cupboards Australia-wide. Taking an absurdist approach, Kenny Pittock employs the shapes of biscuits as a departure point to connect with art school pedagogies. Pittock states:

When learning to draw, we’re often taught how to break down everything we see into five basic geometric shapes: the triangle, the oblong, the circle, the square, and the oval. Similar to a periodic table or a list of every musical note, the idea in Every Kind of Shape is that by playfully presenting a ceramic sculpture of all 16 different variations of Shapes … I've created an artwork containing the building blocks from which every image can be made from.

 

The biscuits are transformed through Pittock’s practice, ascending from the perishable to the immortal in a celebration of sentimental mundanity. These ‘Shapes’—simple, cheap, salty snacks—are memorabilia of childhood and place, a portrait that each viewer can see themselves in. Through this, structures of national identity and nationhood are challenged; it is not a flag, nor a historical figure, that contemporary Australians identify with—it is a biscuit. 

The commercial histories of Arnott’s and ‘Shapes’ biscuits offer further ironic insight into the concept of nationhood attached to consumable goods. While Arnott’s branding is geared towards a nostalgic, 'true-blue' Australian nationalism, the company’s history is a narrative of post-nation corporate globalisation. Arnott’s, founded by Scottish immigrant William Arnott in 1847, was not the creator of ‘Shapes’. The original creator was Brockhoff Biscuits, a company founded by German immigrant Adolf Brockhoff in the 1860s. In the 1960s, Arnott’s merged with Brockhoff’s and the Arnott’s-branded ‘Shapes’ that Australians recognise, know, and love, was born. In 1997, Arnott’s was purchased by US-owned multi-national Campbell’s and it has not been Australian-owned since. 
 

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