Brook Andrew’s video SMASH IT draws its title from the artist’s practice of agitating colonial archives in order to subvert and rewrite dominant narratives of the past. The image track of SMASH IT includes interviews, found film footage, reportage, activists’ video, ethnographic photographs, postcards and other cultural materials, drawn from both the artist’s own private collection and the collections of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC. Image, sound, and text overlap and splinter, entering into tension with one another to reveal and unravel power relations between coloniser and colonised, visible and invisible.
In its polyphony of voices and materials, SMASH IT draws attention to historical events that have occurred in different places and times and their contemporary legacies, connecting traumatic histories in Australia with international experiences and discourse. Excerpts from a series of interviews the artist conducted with First Nations leaders Marcia Langton, Wesley Enoch, Lyndon Ormond-Parker and Maxine Briggs about cultural protocols, appear alongside imagery of defaced and destroyed colonial monuments and the sounds of demonstrators commanding attention through shouts, declamations and chants.
Interspersed throughout is footage from Andrew’s earlier artwork The Pledge, a revised version of the 1955 melodrama Jedda, the first feature film made in Australia to use Indigenous actors as lead characters and the first shot in colour. Overlying the film’s imagery with new subtitles, Andrew rewrites the original film’s love story into a science fiction narrative to reflect on colonial violence and genocide. Ending with the Wiradjuri word ‘NGAAY’ meaning to ‘see’, SMASH IT brings colonial archives into relations with the present moment, inviting viewers to experience these images anew and to reimagine a different legacy.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Brook Andrew (b. 1970 in Sydney. Based between Melbourne, Australia and Oxford, UK. Wiradjuri/Celtic.) has exhibited nationally and internationally since 1996. Recent exhibitions were held at Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC), Milan; Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art Rijeka, Croatia; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Musée d’ethnographie de Genève, Geneva; Musée du quai Branly, Paris; and Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. In 2017, his 25-year career was recognised with a large-scale solo exhibition, The Right to Offend is Sacred, at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.
In 2018, Brook Andrew completed a year-long Australia Council International Residency at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. In 2019, he concluded the Australian Research Council funded project, “Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial” which considered the memorialisation of the Frontier Wars in Australia. In 2017, Brook Andrew was the recipient of the prestigious Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Next year, he will be in residence at the Rockefeller Foundation Belalgio Center, Italy, focusing his research into the repatriation and restitution of ancestral remains and cultural objects.
Brook Andrew was the Artistic Director of NIRIN, 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020). He is currently Associate Professor in Fine Art, Monash University; Enterprise Professor in Interdisciplinary Practice, University of Melbourne; and a Dphil candidate in the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. Brook Andrew was recently awarded the 2020 Australia Council Award for Visual Arts
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