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Telling Tales: Emily Floyd

Born 1972, Melbourne
Lives and works Melbourne

Emily Floyd frequently draws upon the great works of European literature for her art. Here, Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and Camus’ The Outsider are represented through vast sculptural installations that illustrate the spatial geography of each novel, around which multiple, small wooden letters unfold into winding sentences like the branches of
a tree. A new work made for the exhibition looks at Russian typography, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s writings and idea of the gulag (or labour camp). According to Floyd, this is a term that resonates in the present, reflected in Australia’s policies around offshore detention and treatment of remote Indigenous communities.

Originally published in three volumes, Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago considered the prison industry, forced labour camps, ‘the soul and barbed wire’ and the pain of exile. As the survivor of a Stalinist labour camp, who was subsequently denounced then deported from the Soviet Union for his literary work, his words illustrate the power of speech to resist dominant power structures and systems of abuse.

<b>Emily Floyd,</b> <i>It's because I talk too much that I do nothing</i>  2002

Emily Floyd,
It’s because I talk too much that I do nothing 2002
Installation view, Telling Tales: Excursions in Narrative Form, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney, 2016
powder coated steel, stained wood
Private Collection, Melbourne
Image courtesy the artist and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia © the artist
Photograph: Jessica Maurer