Emil Goh


The colonial decor of Linden Gallery with its floor length windows, marble fireplaces and polished floor boards set the scene as one entered a mimesis of the environs created by such exclusive and defining labels as Gucci, Espirit, Jigsaw and Guess. Emil Goh's white shirts neatly folded, displayed museum-style on a 'don't touch me' reflective stainless steel surface, may preclude those who are not enticed to buy and perform ready-made, anonymous, easy access identities.

If however such viewers were to step forward and scrutinize more closely they would find that there is nothing for sale here. The identities can't be taken home. They are not offered, not available, and not suitable. They offer no easy passage to the place of glamour the Gucci people go. The installation 362436 is rendered in a dispassionate, sterile yet sensuous aesthetic, that purposefully hedges between fashion and minimalism.

These white shirts could be K-mart and $25 or they could be Guess and $240. There is no brand name here to tell us of their 'quality'. They are labelled, although not in the manner to which we are accustomed. Stepping out of offering consumerables, Goh has offered us 'other' categories to 'take home'. The labels include: TOO LARGE, TOO SMALL, TOO LONG, TOO SHORT, TOO BLACK, TOO WHITE, TOO HEAVY, TOO LIGHT. Another tells us the price is TOO MUCH. What is found here are examples of difference, of undesirable excluded middles. The categories that don't fit the stereotypes, that can't be purchased as 'normalising' identities: that will not conceal or offer anonymity or belonging. Sameness is not an option. 'Difference' differentiates, effects change and can be affected. Difference can only be taken home in the eye of the beholder, perhaps as a reminder of the attempted escape, or the plight of others. The undesirable 'differences' can't be bought, but we may be born into them, constituted by them constrained and contained within them or by attempts to avoid them in pursuit of the 36-24-36 clone. Here these options are thrown up, into the softly reflected faces of those enticed by the aesthetic of the play-it-safe passage that is normally offered by the replicated packagings.

In a testament to "Seeing is Believing", nobody attempted to 'find out' how short, long, black or white were these shirts. The labels described. The museum casing ensured the ordered display remained so. In fact all the shirts were a medium size. Is it even relevant? The point was made without needing confirmation by the TOO BLACK, white shirt. Still the labelling wasn't questioned, does the label always tell the whole story? Or does it only matter when we're spending money? Or does this sensuous enticing installation produce a sense of uncomfortableness, dis-'ease' for the seduced, trapped in the act of looking and then realising the trap?