CARRIAGEWORKS, 245 Wilson Street, Eveleigh , Sydney, Australia
From: 8 January 2012
Until: 4 March 2012
Daily 10 am until 6 pm
Melbourne-based artist Brook Andrew's Travelling Colony, in which he invites viewers to enter seven black and white striped caravans inspired by the patterns of his indigenous Wiradjuri ancestry, is one of the most talked about artworks in Australia right now. We caught up with Andrew to ask him about the latest version of it, currently installed at Sydney’s Carriageworks Centre (until March 4). Once inside the caravan visitors relax on vinyl upholstery and consume videos of interviews with groups of people connected in some way to the surrounding suburb of Redfern, an important urban hub of Australian indigenous culture and activism since the 1970s.
“The subject matter I deal with involves complex issues of representation and asks questions about history, identity and memory," he tells Phaidon. "How do we remember something that was taken away and then how do we represent this and re-insert it into our visual and spiritual culture. The project was first created in 2007 for an exhibition in Utrecht. I had a painted caravan with three performers. It was inspired by my work in museums and the Aboriginal people and objects from Australia that had passed through European museums. It was a comment on the objectification and circus/display incarceration of people and culture."
Andrew says the patterns on the caravan serve also a metaphor for the "optical and hallucinogenic nature of contemporary culture". At the end of last year Andrew was awarded the Sid Myer Fellowship (Aus$160,000 ) for artistic development. As well as having a permanent installation in the entrance of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Ian Potter Centre (called Marks and Witness: A Lined Crossing in Tribute to William Barak) a new work will soon stand in Sydney’s newly refurbished Museum of Contemporary Art. Andrew sent Phaidon a few pictures (below) of the work to give our readers a sneak-preview of how the new project will look.
Andrew has created a 2.6-high neon arrow named Warrang (meaning Syndey Cove) to be positioned in prime position on the building’s façade. It will point towards the 200 year-old docks beneath the site of the MCA. Underneath the arrow will be the text, written by Andrew: “In the loch, blood stricken, time hidden lay lost, under this place of birth, under your mind lies a tunnel, under this stone, salty darkness, forgotten place of docks and ships.” Andrew says the piece will provide a chance to “reminisce about the history of the area”.
There is a lot more to come from the artist this year. As well as curating the international indigenous exhibition Taboo at the MCA he has several of his own projects ready to go. “One of my projects includes a story called Banjo. It's about a little boy from the Western Suburbs of Sydney in the 1970's who travels back to the 1920's in Broome. He is guided by a dragonfly called Ngalan (light) who helps him track down his Aboriginal grandmother to undo the spirit that is hassling him. It's a story about ghosts, time travel and culture. I'm working with (the Hong Kong-based animation studio) IMAGI and have already made 10 still images. Now I'm looking forward to moving towards making Banjo into a feature animation.”
And has he ever actually been on a caravan holiday? "Oh yes, I was about eight with mum and dad and my grandparents and we stopped at this park overnight. It was raining and it leaked all night!"
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