Archival print version of a paste up poster series installed down Sydney Road in Melbourne's northern suburbs in late March 2020 during the first Covid-19 lockdown in Victoria. The 'Rent's Due... But We've Got The Flu' poster design was made as a reaction to the uncertainty of business closure and rent stress during the first lockdown in Victoria and was pasted up one night down Sydney Road, not far from Troppo Print Studio in Coburg, where it was made.
Sarah Murphy and Matt Feder opened Troppo Print Studio in January 2020, with the aim of moving towards less commercial, more community-oriented work in the arts sector. Workshops, community accessible printing facilities, and exhibitions were planned. But in March when the first lockdown was put in place across Victoria, they had to cancel all shows and upcoming events at Troppo and close doors. Secondary income from other jobs also dried up and this poster comes out of that initial time of uncertainty and stress. Before the introduction of Jobkeeper payments, temporary rent reductions, eviction bans, and arts grants there was uncertainty for renters, small businesses and arts organisations. To an extent, these measures have lessened the panic that this poster so clearly expresses, but rent stress, for many, is an ongoing worry of mounting debt and few opportunities. Many see them as problems delayed, not solved.
This poster was not made as part of the official Rent Strike campaign but speaks to a wider community conversation across Melbourne about rent, land ownership and privilege - differences starkly highlighted by the pandemic. A Reddit thread sprang up in response to the Troppo Studio poster, with community members in heated discussion around the issues it presented. Sarah and Matt explore the meaning of labour through all of their collaborative artwork and have continued to do so during lockdown.
Matt and Sarah feel that they were lucky to have landed the studio before the pandemic hit. And despite the need to pay rent and bills, they feel lucky in what Matt termed 'the musical chairs' of lockdown - wherever you were when it started, that tended to be where you got stuck. They put it down to luck but also privilege, and so income from poster sales will go towards towards the 'Pay The Rent' fund for Aboriginal sovereignty in line with their beliefs in community before profit.
5 colour screenprint on archival 290gsm Fabriano paper.
Place & Date Used
Type of item
50 cm (Width), 70 cm (Height)