Resistance finds voice at Art Gallery of WA

AGWA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art curator Carly Lane with Michael Cook’s Through My Eyes. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d446286
AGWA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art curator Carly Lane with Michael Cook’s Through My Eyes. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d446286

RESISTANCE has opened at Art Gallery of WA and provides a different voice to Treasure Ships: Art in the Age of Spices.

The exhibition of 45 works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists was curated by Carly Lane, who said the show was a mix of new and old pieces.

�I tried to select mostly works from 2005 onwards but within that I still went further back to old favourites� to works that I love and were iconic to my beginnings as a curator,� Lane said.

�I think it�s a really beautiful exhibition and the reason it�s beautiful is there are a lot of connections between different works of art and different ideas that are presented across the show.

�There are also different types of medium which also helps to tell the story.�

The name of the exhibition was inspired by the idea of everyday resistance, a term coined by anthropologist James C. Scott, referring to ordinary people doing things that defied unjust social norms and rules, working against the dominant cultural groups or class system.

�One of the unspoken norms, particularly to do with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is the idea of staying silent or instilling silence,� Lane said.

�And it�s really important, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders artists that they make their work because it�s through their work that we get a voice.�

Lane, who grew up in Queensland, said she hoped exhibition visitors began by reading the conceptual theme statement to understand the essence of the works.

�If they think about things differently it might open up new questions,� she said.

�That�s certainly what Michael Cook does in his 2010 work Through My Eyes (where Cook has transposed the faces of Aboriginal people over the faces of 27 former prime ministers).

�He likes to be provocative but in a really quiet way by saying �What if, what if things were different?��

Resistance is showing at Art Gallery of WA until February 21, 2016. Entry is free.