4 - 6pm, Saturday 1st Feb


Sam Petersen - My pee is political

A second performance of I’m Not A Good Girl will take place at 3.00 pm on Saturday 8 February.

Sam Petersen is an emerging artist from Melbourne with a disability. Her work explores issues surrounding access – and the lack of it – to places, people and opportunities. She has recently been awarded a significant Australia Council for the Arts grant which will enable her to travel from Melbourne to Sydney to present her first commercial gallery exhibition with Darren Knight Gallery. This will be the first major presentation of her work to Sydney audiences. The grant will enable her to travel to Sydney with curator Madé Spencer­Castle and the two support workers required.

I will be making old and new work for the show. I will also be presenting a new iteration of my performance work, ‘I’m Not a Good Girl’.

My work is from the self and stuff that is close to me. I'm interested in what can be done with one’s identity and the space around it. Both my body and mind, touching the everyday with feelings between the rational, the playful and the political. Of course my work is often to do with my disability and my sexuality. This has been focused on access, and the lack of it, to places, people’s minds and opportunities ­ all the time shaping my work. I hope that my work touches people in small ways and makes them rethink their perceptions about disability and sexuality.

I find plasticine as a material a great subverter of space, and therefore potentially of people’s minds. The continuous fixability of plasticine is something I am really enjoying. Covering or filling up gaps and playing with crevices is a strategy I use a lot in my practice. Plasticine also works best when it has been handled; it takes on body heat and reflects it back to us. It becomes this stuff on the edge of being alive. It’s me and itself and it’s my body all at once.

For the exhibition at Darren Knight Gallery I will cover all of the windows in the space in yellow plasticine. I will use a combination of existing plasticine from past projects and new plasticine I will purchase for the show. It is tactile and has life and vitality. It becomes this stuff on the edge of being alive, I feel. The warmth of the yellow plasticine in this case will represent my wee, similar to how I used plasticine for a show at Rear View last year, which was using it in yellow splatters that references my own wee being in a public space.

I like the way visitors will have to enter Darren Knight Gallery via the window door way, making them have to physically pass through my wee. It will filter and block out the daylight into the gallery, creating a beautiful and dappled light installation inside the gallery.

I will also be selling little bottles of my wee, that will be died disability colour blue, and call the work, ‘Disabled wee’. I own that I have a disability, it is part of me, and something I feel very strongly about communicating what my experience is like. The blue colour also referrers to how alien we as disabled people often seem to others, and sometimes even to ourselves. People can buy these works, but must first read or listen to my rant, ‘My Pee Is Political’, which will talk about how the function of wee relates to my disability. I will also be making wee water colours, again with my actual wee. Wee comes from a sexual place. Wee is universal. Anyone who identifies as a cis white male can’t buy these works, but can still buy a bottle of my wee. This will combat the fetishization of the work. All my life I have felt fetishized in my work, and in myself. With this exhibition I want to take the power out of cis white male hands to buy it and own it. Of course they can get someone else to buy it, but still the power will be taken out of their hands. They can say they are something else, but that is something hard for them to say, so in that case I will win anyway.

I will also perform an updated version of ‘I’m Not A Good Girl’, which was first presented at West Space in 2018. ‘I’m Not a Good Girl’ is a performance/lecture which is political and incredibly personal, where I discuss my disability and my experiences in detail through my speech device. The title, ‘I’m Not a Good Girl’ comes from being repeatedly told I am a good girl by people. Often they do not realise how patronising it is to be an adult and called a child.

I am sick to death of patronising behaviour.
I am not a fucking good girl.
I want to change how people see disability.
I want people to hear my voice.

The work has been described as fiercely humorous, sad and poetic. I see this performance as important advocacy for those with disability, and more importantly, educating those without. I will also be making my first publication and doing an interview with Madé Spencer-Castle about the work.

Sam Petersen

Sam Petersen is an artist working in Naarm/Melbourne, who graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art (Painting) at the Victorian College of the Arts in 2018. Sam has presented solo exhibitions and performances including ‘My pee is political’, ‘Liquid Architecture’, Abbotsford Convent (2019); ‘What might be obvious to me may not be obvious to others’, as part of ‘Language: Interdisciplinary public forum’, University of Melbourne (2019); ‘Gaslighting‘, as part of ‘WTF is a Performance Lecture?’, University of Melbourne (2019); ‘I’m Not a Good Girl’, West Space, Melbourne (2018); ‘Snakes Alive’, R.J. Logan Reserve, Melbourne (2018); ‘I’m Not There’, TCB Art Inc., Melbourne (2017); ‘I’ll do angels instead’, Stockroom, Melbourne (2017); ‘Grey’, Bus Projects, Melbourne (2016); and ‘Clay Like’, George Paton Gallery, Melbourne (2016).

Sam has been included in curated and group exhibitions, including ‘Queer Economies’, Bus Projects,
Melbourne, curated by Abbra Kotlarczyck and Madé Spencer­Castle (2019); ‘With Seeing Hands’, Incinerator Gallery, Melbourne, curated by Alice Mathieu (2018); ‘Low roofs make one feel like a mole in general’, Rear View , Melbourne (2017); ‘Real Life Fantasies’, West Space, Melbourne, curated by Patrice Sharkey (2017); and ‘Not too bothered, but how does this work?’, Victorian College of the Arts, Melbourne (2016).

Sam has been the recipient of numerous awards, including an Australia Council for the Arts Project Grant (2019), The Basic Artist Services Graduate Prize (2016), National Gallery of Victoria Women's Association Award (2016), Agnes Robertson Scholarship for Painting (2016), Melbourne University Access Scholarship (2016) and the VCA Proud Second Year Award (2015).

Later this year, Sam Petersen will be included in Overlapping Magisteria, The Macfarlane Commissions #2 at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne (20 June – 6 September 2020).


Waterloo 840 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo NSW 2017