OH, MUSEUM22 May 2021 — 11 July 2021
Gianna Hayes. Untitled, 2019, Pigment print on Ilford Cotton Rag. Courtesy the artist
Amid dim lighting and muted tones, Oh, Museum turns a spotlight on the sombre grandiosity, assumed authority and monolithic narratives traditionally upheld by Western museums and art institutions.
Presenting international and Australian artists, the show features a wide range of art forms and perspectives that variously dismantle and critique museological conventions and invisible systems of power. The nuances of the artists’ individual practices, along with the collective drive to undo and reconfigure, invites a crucial revisioning that is politically urgent, poetic and promising of new possibilities.
Cement Fondu’s gallery space will evoke a museological environment in which stone pillars crumble and classic statues are remixed as synthetic copies. On the walls, enlarged Tintype photographs undercut their 19th Century colonial, anthropological form by asserting the agency, power and significance of present-day First Nations arts workers and artists. Under glass, a small collection of artefacts from an ISIS-destroyed museum will be on display, rescued retrospectively by 3D printing and embedded with digitised cultural knowledge that are available to access for visitors with USB-friendly laptops.
Featuring artists and collectives across the main gallery and digital screening spaces, and offering a participatory ‘Complaints Department’ by the Guerrilla Girls in the Project Space, Oh, Museum encompasses a range of insights into historic and ongoing institutionalised injustice, with respect to colonisation, war and slavery, marginalisation and misrepresentation. In response, certain works assert a reverence for sacred cultural customs, rituals and artefacts that have been destroyed, misattributed or made invisible. Others centralise unheard voices, unacknowledged knowledges and those unrepresented on museum walls.
The artists also consider the complex impacts of digitisation as it fundamentally shakes up notions of originality, agency and authorship, threatens new forms of digital colonialism, and offers greater access to diverse wisdoms, cultures and experiences.
Through their contemporary approaches to the long-history of institutional critique, the artists break down persisting systems of power and value to initiate an inclusive and timely conversation about art and institutional regeneration.
Recorded during the exhibition, Cement Fondu presents the NAIDOC week panel discussion ‘Direct positive: Affirming First Nations presence in Australian museums,’ which can be viewed below.
22 MAY – 11 JULY
OPENING 22 MAY 6-8pm
10 JULY: NAIDOC Week Panel discussion facilitated by Matt Poll (USYD) and featuring artist James Tylor, Dr Mariko Smith (The Australian Museum) and Coby Edgar (AGNSW) Watch here.
This project is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW