A few weeks back we introduced Juundaal and Amber, aka The Sisters of Perpetual Plastix.
The sisters joined us as “team members” in the Plastic-free Biennale project – they volunteered themselves to jump in and help out. In fact, Juundaal and Amber were students in “Art Nature and the Environment”, the class Kim and I taught at University of Wollongong last year. They approached us after class one day to take part. How could we say no?
We love this kind of thing – a chance to broaden our collaboration, take it in a direction that we ourselves would NEVER have imagined. And that’s exactly what’s happened. We decided to take Amber and Juundaal under our wings. Kim and I became their semi-official “mentors”, encouraging them to create a new work under the auspices of the Plastic-free Biennale.
Our original thought was that this dynamic duo could develop a performative piece to be presented at Cockatoo Island. The idea emerged from our meetings with the staff of the Biennale of Sydney. Whenever we met up with them, a few would slyly sidle up to us and make a “confession” about their plastic-waste sins. Let’s say they were desperate for a coffee one day, and so they bought one in a disposable cup. Or that they succumbed to the temptations of a plastic take-away container rather than bringing their own lunch. The horror!
Kim and I found this rather amusing – because it’s not as if we are “holier than thou” – we too are guilty of all the sins of plastic consumption. We don’t have all the answers! And so, we couldn’t exactly exonerate or forgive our Biennale colleagues, could we?
But from this interaction the idea emerged — what if Amber and Juundaal belonged to some (fictitious) religious order, and made an appearance at the Plastic-free Biennale headquarters at Cockatoo Island? What if they were “in residence” on certain days, and made themselves available to listen, non-judgementally, to the confessions of biennale visitors? And set them some whacky penances?
That was the opening gambit. From there, the Sisters of Perpetual Plastix were born – Amber was born again as Sister Ninny Nurdles, and Juundaal transfigured herself into Sister Glitter Nullius.
And then COVID-19 hit, and any dreams of in-person confessions at Cockatoo Island were quashed.
Like so many artists whose plans were thwarted by the virus, the Sisters had to go back to the drawing board. They couldn’t interact with visitors in person. So what could they do instead? In some ways, this set-back released them into a realm of creative freedom that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. Individually, and as a pair, the Sisters have been honing their performative personas.
Here are a few of their freshly produced videos to whet your appetite:
Who exactly are they? What are their origins? What do they stand for? And what can a pair of nuns in traditional Catholic habits do to help us break our plastic consumption habits?
We still don’t have clear answers to all these questions (or, maybe any of them!) – but maybe that’s the point. The Sisters bring something refreshingly silly to the project, as well as, at times, something surprisingly dark.
They’re developing a metaphor which is yet to crystalise entirely – the Catholic tradition of “guilt”, and its flipside: the pleasure of transgression – as well as the desperate desire for absolution. These are all fully present in our conflicted relationship with plastic, one of the most useful/horrible materials humans have ever had the genius/foolishness to invent.
And so, we invite you to visit the Sisters of Perpetual Plastix in their own habitat – their online convent, if you will – over at sisters-of-perpetual-plastix.net …