Shevaun Wright | Site Specific Work 2018 (Suggested Corporate Names – Child Sexual Abuse Entity)

28 June – 14 July 2018


Building upon Miwon Kwon’s notion of the ‘discursive vector’, the title to this work reflects the site specificity of discourse concerning child sexual abuse. 


These sites converged in 2007 with the NSW Court of Appeal’s finding that the Catholic Church could not be sued because it was not a legal entitty (Ellis Defence), and within a month,  the federal government’s announcement of the Northern Territory Intervention. 


Juxtaposing five levels of rhetoric, Shevaun highlights discursive spaces and suggests alternative interventionist narratives and notions of cultural protectionism in the form of proposed names for any entity created by churches to address its lack of accountability. 


Punctuated by dotes and corporate abbreviations, with strikeouts reflecting the requirement for inoffensive corporate names and redirecting cultural references, these discourses repeat from left to right as follows: 


Fictional speech: Satirical names


Political speech: Quotations from a Lateline interview with Mal Brough and John Howard’s Intervention media announcement.


Legal speech: Justice Mason’s judgement in Ellis. 


Victims’ speech: Quotations from Church victims in reports of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse. 


Church speech: Quotations from the Commission’s reports and transcripts and Cardinal Pell’s public statements.


Written in dust and glitter, these textural contrasts symbolise the cultural exceptionalism expounded by powerful institutions against victims and Aboriginal minorities. As an urban Aboriginal person, the use of Shevaun’s house dust also embodies the severe proprietary consequences levelled against Aboriginal persons as a result of the linguistic exploitation of this issue, including loss of lands and community closures. 


With voting on the Green’s proposal to amend the Roman Catholic Church Trust Property Act 1936 (NSW) having been adjourned multiple times in this Parliament, it is a prime opportunity for us to reconsider our understanding of primitive cultures and the protection of paedophile networks within closed communities, out of touch with contemporary notions of justice or decency. 


Shevaun is a lawyer and artist who is primarily engaged in an interdisciplinary practice that utilises the contractual medium and the notion of the ‘social contract,’ as well as re-contextualised dialogues as a tool for engaging in institutional legal and artistic critique. Informed by her Aboriginal heritage, she aims to extrapolate feminist and post-colonial critiques of the law and art as a means to access and reveal similarities in their discursive practices. She has masters degrees in law and art, and is currently undertaking an MFA at UCLA in Professor Mary Kelly’s Interdisciplinary Studio.