APT8: Brook Andrew ‘Intervening Time’ extended

 

APT8 QAG Gallery 10.1 Brook Andrew

APT8 QAG Gallery 10.1 Brook Andrew

APT8QAG Gallery 10.1Brook Andrew

APT8QAG Gallery 10.1Brook Andrew

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Installation views of ‘Intervening Time’ 2015 in the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Galleries, Queensland Art Gallery

Brook Andrew’s APT8 installation, ‘Intervening Time’, is a comment on the historical and contemporary narratives that shape our understanding of the Australian landscape, people and culture — it is also a prime example of the dynamic relationship between artists and museums.

Over the past several decades, the relationship between the museum and the peoples and cultures it represents has been researched and critiqued locally and internationally, especially by artists, curators, theorists and communities, from inside and outside the museum profession. Through processes of institutional critique and postcolonial reassertion of indigenous identities, traditions and continually evolving cultures, the museum is being fundamentally altered, and artists’ historical research and projects are central to this inclusive, multi-perspective museology.

In a productive melding of creation and curation, artists working locally1 and internationally since the 1970s have been intervening in museum collections in order to rethink the processes of exhibition-making, to question existing narratives and historical positions, and to unsettle or subvert conventional displays by revealing some of the less predictable intersections between works of art and the visual and material culture of different places.

Brook Andrew’s project for APT8, ‘Intervening Time’, realised in collaboration with QAGOMA curatorial staff, represents the intervention of art practice into the conventions of museum display through physical transformation. It proposes a layered, complex consideration of the encounters between indigenous and other cultures.

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Brook Andrew, Wiradjuri people / TIME IV 2012 / Mixed media on Belgian linen /Purchased 2014. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

Several of Andrew’s recent major installations and graphic works are inspired by patterns found on dendroglyphs (carved trees) and shields specific to his mother’s Wiradjuri nation (in New South Wales). He has applied his contemporary hypnotic pattern in black over the existing wall colours of the Australian collection galleries, and suspended his six-part 2012 installation, TIME, in between the works that currently hang there. One image makes a direct Australian reference: a detail from an earlytwentieth- century group photograph of an Aboriginal man with a Union Jack — the mark of empire — painted on his chest. Others include a British Raj Indian postal worker; people among the rubble of a collapsed European building during World War One; an image of a clock counting backwards to a zero hour (a reference to British atomic bomb tests in the Monte Bello Islands and Maralinga in 1952–63); and the façade of the Australian Museum in Sydney. Each work is speculatively connected to the other through signs of time and historical situations. Their enlargement to monumental dimensions also radically alters their original status as archival documents, while a surface treatment emphasises the historical patina of the original source imagery, creating a tone of remembrance. Andrew has juxtaposed these disparate pictures with works by Rupert Bunny, E Phillips Fox and Vida Lahey, among many others, to construct an open-ended narrative that provokes questions about the fragile and volatile political, social and environmental systems of our contemporary world. The existing historical display in the galleries was changed only slightly, through the inclusion of international works of historical Nepalese and Indian art, in addition to images by Goya, Warhol and Hirschfeld Mack representing states of conflict.

Installations such as ‘Intervening Time’ are intended to destabilise, not only to rethink the authority of the museum and the exclusivity of its systems but also the authority of history and the systems of the modern world. By working with museum colleagues, artists declare museums open entities and critically revise the potential meaning of their objects.

Endnotes
1  Among them, Domenico

Watch a fascinating time-lapse of the installation of ‘Intervening Time’

Brook Andrew ‘Intervening Time’ extended to Sunday 22 May 2016

Exhibition Founding Sponsor: Queensland Government
Exhibition Principal Sponsor: Audi Australia
Principal Partner: Australia Council for the Arts

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island Engagement Strategy

 
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Segar Passi, Meriam Mir Dauareb people / Waier 2015 /Synthetic polymer paint on Belgian linen / Purchased 2015 with funds from Anne Best through the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

In April this year, the Board of Trustees formally endorsed the Gallery’s new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island (ATSI) Engagement Strategy, which provides practical and ethical guidelines and procedures relating to our commitment to Indigenous Australian art and culture.

QAGOMA is committed to representing Indigenous Australian art and culture through collection development, exhibition programming, identified employment and professional development, community liaison, engagement and participation. Indigenous engagement strategies and Reconciliation Action Plans (RAP) are now major policy and procedural tools in structuring and improving organisational commitments throughout the private and public sector, and having a specifically designed Strategy and RAP enables organisations like the Gallery to turn good intentions into positive actions.

The development and implementation of our ATSI Engagement Strategy has been largely informed by Reconciliation Australia — an independent, not-for-profit organisation promoting reconciliation by building relationships, respect and trust between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples — and is designed to align with the key principles of the Gallery’s broader Strategic Plan for 2014–19, namely: access for all; recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; leadership through research, learning and innovation; and commitment to a sustainable, collaborative and inclusive culture. The Strategy acknowledges the distinct tribal systems, cultural protocols and ceremonial traditions maintained by Indigenous communities throughout Queensland and Australia. It guides Gallery staff in their understanding of and approach to our representation of engagement with Indigenous art, artists and communities. A major intended outcome of the ATSI Engagement Strategy is the development and formal endorsement of a QAGOMA Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which will be embedded in and reviewed under the terms of the Gallery’s annual Operational Plans.

In managing and implementing Indigenous engagement, several strategies are set out in the Gallery’s policy objectives: Acknowledgement of Country is particularly important to the Gallery and occurs as a matter of course at all public events: the Engagement Strategy commits us to community consultation to determine the most effective and meaningful form of acknowledgment. We continue to seek meaningful engagement with senior members of the local ATSI community, while national focal points such as NAIDOC week and Sorry Day enrich the scope of our programming and activities. To navigate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community protocols, we are in the process of forming of an Advisory Group, to provide a strong, diverse forum through which we can address potential political, ethical and protocol issues. Regarding employment, training and professional development opportunities, we intend to share information on our Indigenous programs in part by engaging in regular conversations with Indigenous artists, and through them, reach a broader audience in local and national art and cultural communities. Sponsorship and business partnerships, along with intellectual property, are also key objectives.

As a first step, in January 2015, QAGOMA Director Chris Saines approved the formation of a special Indigenous Advisory Group comprising internal staff and key external Indigenous leaders and colleagues to focus specifically on the artists and works proposed for inclusion in ‘The 8th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art’ (APT8). The APT8 Indigenous Advisory Group provided feedback, perspectives and guidance to the Gallery’s Executive Management team and curatorial staff regarding projects proposed for APT8 that have Indigenous content or that could, in the group’s view, benefit from guidance relating to communication and cultural protocols.

The main responsibilities of the Advisory Group have been to provide advice on how the Gallery may identify, reflect and protect Indigenous representation, rights and protocols in APT8 and ensure that artistic content and its interpretation is managed in a culturally sensitive way; to advocate on behalf of the Gallery within indigenous communities to assist us in resolving issues; and to help us liaise with local, state and national Indigenous people, communities and organisations.

The ATSI Engagement Strategy is intended to ensure that protocols for working with communities and individual Indigenous artists are incorporated into Collection, acquisition and exhibition documents, so that the Executive Management team, curatorial and exhibitions management staff are able to better identify and resolve culturally specific issues.

The Gallery is demonstrably committed to scheduling and supporting Indigenous art exhibitions and will maintain its program of commissioning, acquiring and representing Indigenous art, sourced both locally and Australia-wide. The October 2014 launch of a permanent space for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island art in the Queensland Art Gallery has given us a prominent platform on which to develop and enact our engagement with artists and the community, and we will endeavour to develop increasingly innovative and sophisticated interpretive frameworks to extend our audiences’ interactions with Indigenous Australian cultures.

Highlight: Brook Andrew ‘TIME’ 2012

 

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Brook Andrew, Wiradjuri people, Australia b.1970 / TIME I, II and III 2012 / Mixed media on Belgium linen / Purchased 2014. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

Brook Andrew is a leading Australian contemporary artist who over the past 20 years has developed an interdisciplinary practice that encompasses photography, printmaking, sculpture, sound and installation. His work has consistently engaged with and elaborated on the potent themes of colonialism and post-colonialism, cultural difference, sexuality, the role of language in determining historical and contemporary identities, and the circulation and contextualisation of anthropological and sociological imagery.

TIME 2012 is an imposing installation of six images sourced from archives and reproduced in large-scale onto Belgian linen with a surface treatment of metallic foil. The installation assembles historical colonial, imperialist and scientific imagery from diverse points of origin around the world, a strategy through which Andrew seeks to link Australian Aboriginal histories and experiences to those of other peoples. TIME demands a reconsideration of the impact of European settlement and the displacement of Australia’s original inhabitants and traditional owners through a wider geopolitical lens.

The installation includes one image with a direct Indigenous reference: an Aboriginal man painted up with a Union Jack — the mark of empire — on his chest. A detail from a group photograph, the figure is emblematic of the colonised Aborigine, engaged in ‘corroboree’ — a put-on performance far removed from ceremony — for white audiences. Other images include an Indian postal worker, people among the rubble of a collapsed building, an image of a clock counting backward toward a zero hour (a reference to the British atomic bomb tests in the Monte Bello Islands and Maralinga in 1952–63), and the Australian Museum — the institutional repository of Indigenous and non-Indigenous material culture and classificatory systems. Each work is speculatively connected to the other through signs of time: each image, taken from the artist’s own collection of historical photographs, postcards and slides, re-presents a moment or situation in history. Andrew’s juxtaposition of disparate pictures constructs an open-ended narrative that provokes questions regarding the fragile, volatile political, social and environmental systems that structure our contemporary world.

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Brook Andrew, Wiradjuri people, Australia b.1970 / TIME IV, V and VI 2012 / Mixed media on Belgium linen / Purchased 2014. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

Andrew’s use and deployment of archival sources is a powerful strategy: historical photographic sources increasingly acquire the status of artefacts in a digital age. Andrew’s extensive research into historical image archives and anthropological collections, in addition to his own collection of rare books, press photographs and postcards, has provided a diverse range of material on which to draw. Installed, the images in TIME establish an ambiguous space, suspended between image and object, one that takes on a ‘theatrical mise en scene or the stage of a museum diorama’.1 Their enlargement to monumental dimensions also radically alters their original status as documents while the added surface treatment emphasises the historical patina of the original source imagery, drawing attention to a tone of remembrance. As Anneke Jaspers comments,

Summoned into this unlikely dialogue from disparate sources, the subjects in TIME give form to the idea of the archive as a space in which multiple realities can coincide, beyond the constraints of linear time and literal distance.2

As an installation, TIME engages with layered historical, cultural perspectives that invoke the political complexities and ramifications of colonial history, and directly activate a contemporary experience of time: the past is mediated to play out differently in the immediacy of the present. In his manipulation of images and reconfiguration of them in other media and formats, Andrew attempts to disconnect his works from the conventional narrative realm of the photograph, but simultaneously activate his viewers through a physical and psychological absorption in his subjects and their alternatively subtle or strident occupation of space.

Text by Jason Smith, Curatorial Manager, Australian Art, with thanks to David Burnett, Curator, International Art, and Bruce McLean, Curator, Indigenous Australian Art for their initial research into TIME.

Endnote
1  Anneke Jaspers, ‘Brook Andrew: The predicament of archival images’, in The Floating Eye [exhibition catalogue], Sydney Pavilion at the 9th Shanghai Biennale 2012, unpaginated.
2  Jaspers.