Over the next two weeks, we interview the capable ladies and gentlemen speaking and performing at DOAS’ Issue #5 ‘FOOD’ launch on 12 May at the Yarra Sculpture Gallery in Collingwood.
Influenced by religious iconography, Latin American culture, family histories and an undying love for The King, Amy Bugeja works with mixed media, particularly film photography and wood. She covered herself in grease a few weeks ago to host and document drunk and disorderly Elvis-themed dinner party. And why the hell not? Photos of the debauchery which ensued will be on display at DOAS’ launch this Saturday 12 of May.
What gave you the idea of throwing and documenting an Elvis themed dinner party?
I wish I could say I was sitting on the toilet eating a hamburger when the idea occurred to me. However it was more to do with the fact that I’ve wanted to marry Elvis since I was a little girl. I wasn’t a smart little girl obviously (little known fact: Elvis is dead). So when DOAS’s theme was revealed to be ‘food’, I thought this could be the perfect opportunity to combine my love of the King, and my other love: making my friends throw up and documenting it. So we arranged a 50s style Elvis dinner party for the shoot. I’m vegetarian, so I had loads of fun deep-frying chicken and rolling meatballs for the dinner party. I’m the proud owner of the ‘Fit for a King’ cookbook, and so I chose from that the most fattening and revolting foods that would have surely lead to the Kings well-known constipation issues for the shoot. The aim was to get everyone very, very drunk so we could get the kind of photos I had in mind. And thanks to some very special mates volunteering to dress up, we got a bit ‘wrong’ in the bathroom and on the bed. That’s how all dinner parties should end: a bit ‘wrong’.
What food do you like?
I love spicy Mediterranean, Mexican and Vietnamese cooking. I’m also very fond of my Maltese heritage and take a lot of queues from that. Our family get-togethers’ growing up were always an opportunity for amazing food, heaps of grog and family fighting. Nowadays we sit around the table and reminisce about that time my Mum ran over and killed our dog, or the time my brother crashed my Dad’s midlife crisis car into a McDonald’s on Father’s Day. I think it is so important that food can bring people together like that.
What kind of art and literature are you inspired by?
I really love the aesthetics of religious iconography, Mediterranean and Latin American culture, and family histories. I love 50s Googie architecture and tacky drive-in cinema and motel signage. But most of all I love Melbourne’s suburbia and heritage. We have an amazingly recent history and it’s fascinating watching our suburbs and communities change. In terms of literature, I love Helen Garner for her brilliant and complex stories of Australian life. I’ve seen her speak a few times and she just hits you with this candor that you don’t often see. I also love Gabriel Garcia Marquez for his other worldly, beautifully cast sentences. I’m so bloody picky when it comes to authors, but these two have really blown me away. I’m also heavily influenced by music, and I’ve been listening to heaps of Bjorn Olsson and Harvey Averne lately. Swedish dreamy choral arrangements with whistling sounds lame to me, but I can assure you that Bjorn’s music is rad. Whereas Harvey rocks the 1960s Latin boogaloo.
Tell us a bit about your art as Hola Holga?
My last few exhibitions feature photographs of houses and buildings in my local suburbs that I’ve taken on my Holga camera, and then transferred onto wood panels. The photographs work with the knots of wood to create nostalgic 50s imagery. I’m currently working on a collaboration with a historian on 1950s architecture in Melbourne that I’m very excited about. Hopefully I can stage some pretty cool shots in some of the very first motels in Melbourne. And I’m travelling to Mexico and Cuba for dia de los Muertos this year so have already imported some Mexican ofrendas bases and hope to create my own personal offerings in that style.