Health, Happiness, and Housing
4 June - 23 June 1997
For her latest series of photomontages, Ava Seymour travelled the length of New Zealand photographing concentrations of state housing in places like Otara, Glen Innes, Porirua, the Hutt Valley and Brockville. Her snaps provide the backgrounds into which she places found, black-and-white images of retards, cripples and amputees. With titles like Welfare Mom, Minne Dean, State Highway 1 and Enema Nurse, her images suggest the deterioration of the social dream represented by state housing. However, Seymour is adamant: ‘The works are not a comment on New Zealand State Housing, but on housing in general.’ Seymour's work belongs to the Dada tradition of collage as political satire and social comment, exemplified by John Heartfield and Hannah Hoch. Classically, photomontage involves juxtaposing images from different contexts to release a new meaning. Seymour's previous series Rubber Love did this by relocating figures from rubberist magazines in ornate domestic interiors from decor magazines.