Monika Noémi Correa’s commission was originally published in the Queensland edition of The Saturday Paper 25 July. Download and print your own A3 poster to have at home!
Monika Noémi Correa, Slim Pickings, 2020
We are all well aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed great flaws in our nation's systems. Undocumented people and their struggles to find security and safety is not a narrative solely familiar to the United States. Australia has an infamous approach today on asylum seekers and undocumented individuals and how our inhuman government determines their futures. My family's stories, like many others, have exposed some heartbreaking truths of migrating to the west.
Slim Pickings is an illustration that illuminates some of the stories we should be aware of today. ‘Return to your home countries’ was an ignorant and myopic statement made by the Prime Minister Scott Morrison during a COVID-19 related press conference in April this year. The comment relates to the many documented and undocumented individuals who are exposed to questionable working conditions to support their families or friends and call this country their home. In 2018, it was recorded that Australia had over 63,000 undocumented migrants that we are aware of. It is estimated that we have tens of thousands more that are unaccounted for today, reaching closer to 100,000; all of which do not have access to welfare, or medicare benefits.
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, documented migrants continue to support other migrants with food, housing, and financial aid. It was the resilience and support of migrant communities that continue to provide the care that the Australian Federal Government lacks entirely. If you have funds to spare, however small or big, please consider supporting the following organisations that provide aid to migrants in Australia; and of course, always and forever—Pay the Rent.
—Monika Noémi Correa, 2020
This past year has been tumultuous and with it issues that have been tolerated for too long are resurfacing, catching alight. With Making Art Work as a platform for industrial action, Monika Noémi Correa shares a visual narrative that illuminates the seldom acknowledged plight of undocumented migrants and visitors in Australia. At first glance Slim Pickings (2020) seems a whimsical illustration, rather it is a grim interpretation of a half-hearted utterance made by the Prime Minister of Australia. Countless naked and rotund figures journey in chains toward an abyss of flames—they have been banished, displaced. Delicate lines in soft colours have been used to form each repeated motif and figure, capturing the sensitivity and emotional weight of a staggering reality for hundreds and thousands of people. In a style stridently political, Correa’s storytelling practice is reminiscent of the Mexican Muralism movement in the early 1920s. Artists were commissioned to make artworks to educate the mostly illiterate population, which in turn sparked change. Here, Correa critiques our moral capacity to look out for others, and Slim Pickings is a gentle reminder to continue to speak about the issues that matter most, to take action however big or small.
—Ashleigh Ralph, 2020
Monika Noémi Correa is a Colombian Latinx woman who was born and raised in Meanjin/ Brisbane. Her work centres around issues of diaspora and displacement—of community, culture and language—but is also diaristic, taking in themes of desire, sexuality, relationships, and sexual trauma. She is concerned with the fetishisation of Latinx people in the West, toxic masculinity in Latinx culture, and decolonial practices.