A baby cries. Flickering images and unnatural human movements cross the screen. This is how artist Michael Cook reflects on his own story of being separated from his 16-year-old birth mother, and how he explores the unfathomable separation of mothers and their children from Australia’s Stolen Generation.
Impact brings together new media and video works from Cook and three other acclaimed artists –Taloi Havini, Angela Tiatia and Fiona Foley. It questions the ongoing effects of colonisation on First Nation communities in Australia and the Pacific region.
Impact, which is touring from Cairns Regional Gallery where it was originally curated, is showing at the UTS Gallery from 9 May until 30 June. Senior Curator at Cairns Region Gallery Julietta Park says, “Each work in the exhibition powerfully and evocatively portrays a different issue.
“I approached two artists from Queensland and two artists from the Pacific to present works that explore the close cultural ties that exist between the two regions and the cultural, environmental, social and political issues that are shared between the communities.”
While Cook’s video and photographic works tell the story of an Indigenous mother’s despair, Queensland artist Foley’s film looks at the destruction caused by white men stealing Aboriginal women, the collapse of traditional Aboriginal kinship marriages and the subsequent pain in Indigenous culture.
Moving north to Papua New Guinea, Havini explores the social and political ramifications of the conflict between Australian mining companies and the native Nagovis people of Bougainville. Tiatia takes viewers to Tuvali in the South Pacific to show the effects of climate change as the island faces the possibility of evacuation due to rising sea levels.
Says Park, “The artists were so supportive and spent lots of effort and time making new works for Impact.
“Taloi Havini made two trips to Papua New Guinea and stayed almost four months there to film Habitat: Konawiru.”
Impact was originally curated to coincide with the 2016 Cairns Indigenous Art Fair which presents the best of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures in Queensland to Australia and the world. And it doesn’t disappoint.
Impact is on display in the UTS Gallery until 30 June. For more information, visit art.uts.edu.au