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Kay Abude


April 26 - June 4, 2023

Kay Abude once said that "Doing what you love is a form of survival. And doing what makes you a living is a form of survival".

Hailing from Naarm/ Melbourne and born to a migrant family from the Philippines, Abude has had a long relationship with unpacking the strange conundrums in our relationship to labour, as well as labour’s relationship to art.

Abude, like many artists, has always had an insatiable need to create work, though has been acutely aware that there are not currently financial and cultural infrastructures/resources in place that will allow artists to do this full time. Addressing this, (DON’T) BE AN ARTIST is an evolving series that has encompassed labour intensive techniques such as film, performance, textiles, and screen printing. With a sardonic wit, Abude creates works with a production line like output that speak to the precarious nature of being an artist, and how the community perceives an artist’s value.

Passage is proud to present the latest iteration of the series, where Abude has created a ghostly fashion show in a retail space that cannot be entered. With garments removed from their bodies like workers can be removed from the joys and fruits of their labour, Abude blurs the distinction between art and commerce, between practical labour and joyful labour, between blue collar and white collar, between the idea of repetitive acts as being mundane or being meditative, between an object being made for its own sake or for its purpose to be sold commercially. In this show Abude has fashioned an alternative way of thinking.

"Doing what you love is a form of survival. And doing what makes you a living is a form of survival". When asked to choose between the two, that of being an artist or not, Abude refused to accept those are the only two options, so she simply took what she needed from both.

Installation Views

Installation Images Photographed by Campbell Henderson 

About The Artist

Kay Abude is an artist based in Melbourne, Australia.  Her practice spans diverse media, including sculpture, large-scale installation, photography, performance, video, and silk screen printing.  Her works, often adorned with texts, function as provocations and explore themes of work, labour and money.  Abude was a studio artist at Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne from 2019 to 2022.  

Abude completed a Master of Fine Art (by research) at the Victorian College of the Arts and Music, The University of Melbourne in 2010. She has received numerous awards and grants including a 2021 City of Melbourne Creative Laneways Project grant, a 2020 Play King Foundation grant from the Australian Tapestry Workshop, a 2018 Vic Arts Grant from Creative Victoria and a 2018 HUME Arts Award. Abude was shortlisted for the prestigious 2014 Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture and was the recipient of the Professional Development Award and Civic Choice Award.  She has also received a 2014 Vic Arts Grant, a 2013 Australia Council Art Start Grant and an Australian Post-Graduate Award in 2009-2010. 

Abude's recent exhibitions include (DON’T) BE AN ARTIST, Gertrude Glasshouse, Collingwood, 2021; (DON’T) BE AN ARTIST, Flash Forward – Creative Laneways Project, The Hotel Windsor, Melbourne, 2021; NEVER WORK/ STOP WORKING, NGV Triennial EXTRA, NGV International, Melbourne, 2021; THE BEAUTY OF ROCK BOTTOM, Stimulus Package, FUSE Festival, City of Darebin, 2021; WORK WORTH DOING, La Trobe Art Institute, Bendigo, Victoria, 2020-21; LOVE THY LABOUR, WFH, STATION Gallery, Sydney, 2020; and POWER, National Anthem, Buxton Contemporary, Southbank, 2019. 

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