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25 September 2022 —
27 November 2022

Isabella Dampney: Feast of the Ass

Isabella Dampney, Feast of the Ass, 2022
Isabella Dampney, Feast of the Ass, 2022. Photo by Sam Hartnett.
Isabella Dampney, Feast of the Ass, 2022 (installation view). Photo by Sam Hartnett.


“I am a dishwasher by trade. My employer is a Metro Magazine Top 50 brunch spot. You have seen me on your way to the bathroom. I am the one scouring dried eggs from the china. The dish pit physically boxes me in, each day’s work existing in a closed square metre. My sole responsibility is efficiently reintegrating clean kitchenware into the service cycle.”

Feast of the Ass is a sculptural project repurposing the limited vision of Isabella Dampney’s kitchen workspace. In front of the wall is a commercial dishwasher. Mounted atop the dishwasher is an oil painting of a donkey being taunted by a carrot and beaten with a stick. The picture is crude, claiming a delinquent charm akin to the cartoons you find in the margins of a 1B5 exercise book.

The installation of the dishwasher literally supporting the artwork is simple in its anti-authoritarian symbolism. The painting cannot reclaim the artist’s time spent in the workplace, instead Dampney seeks to understand these lost hours and find some humour along the way.

→ The Art Paper – Notes On: Steam

About the artist

Isabella Dampney has previously lived in Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Toronto, and El Bolsón and is currently based in Tāmaki Makaurau. Her background is in performance and moving image, but since 2017 her studio focus has been representational oil painting. Through off-colour humour and gap-toothed caricature, her pictures of buildings, babies, barnyard animals, and bad driving express a deeply held scepticism toward the promises of the modern urbane.

She is currently undertaking a Masters of Visual Arts at Auckland University of Technology, following a BFA (Hons) at the University of Auckland (2016). She has exhibited throughout Aotearoa, North America, and Australia, including at Enjoy Contemporary Art Space, Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Hot Lunch, Flux Factory NYC, and Knulp Sydney. She co-founded the performance group LONDON DRUGS and contributed to noise projects PISS CANNONN and 3 Chocolatiers.

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