Voices heard in artworks at Art Gallery of WA

Voices heard in artworks at Art Gallery of WA

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.