Born 1977, Brisbane. Lives and works Melbourne
to be carried away by the current, to be dissolved in the Other 2014
Commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, 2014
Sangeeta Sandrasegar was born in Brisbane of Malaysian and Australian parents, and spent her childhood growing up between both countries. Her practice is research-based and centred around post-colonial and hybridity theories, drawing strongly from her mixed heritage.
Sangeeta Sandrasegar’s larger-than-life, fibreglass sculpture faces out over the harbour to the ocean beyond. It is a mer-child, combining the body of a child with the head of an ancient fish. A fossil of this 419 million year old fish, Entelognathus primordialis, was recently discovered in China, and is thought to be the earliest common ancestor of jawed vertebrates, including humans.
the mer-child stands in for the mythology of the seas... offering us new directions whilst also pointing to our multiple voyages, travels and routes.
Sandrasegar is interested in our changing relationship to the sea brought about by technology and industrialisation, such as the disappearance of marine life and our increasing detachment from sea-faring tales and mythology.
She created the work in response to the development of this location over time. Sandrasegar describes Circular Quay as ‘a contemporary site of culture and tourism, framed by the cultural and technical innovations of both the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge’. Yet, as she points out, ‘another smaller and often forgotten time is placed next door at Sydney’s Sailors Home’, which opened its doors in 1865. ‘Here the birth of Sydney sits poised on its mercantile trade, development and discovery.’ For the artist, the sculpture is an agent connecting these two blocks of time in Australia’s history.
As a mythological creature that travels upon the seas, the mer-child bears witness to our sea-faring activities. Sandrasegar describes her work as connected to current debates around ‘boat people’, in particular the plight of vulnerable child asylum seekers, and ‘the many others who have reached Australian shores by boat throughout history.’
The MCA Sculpture Commission is an ongoing program of works commissioned for the Loti Smorgon Sculpture Terrace on Level 4. The Museum works with artists to realise new, temporary artworks that respond to this unique site overlooking Sydney Harbour.