Border Crossings brings together curators and contemporary artists from Ireland and Australia to investigate cross-cultural issues surrounding ethnic conflict, the legacy of colonialism and the challenges of reconciliation that are relevant to both countries. Australia and Ireland’s histories have been entangled since the first fleet arrived at Sydney Cove to set up a penal colony in 1788. 24% of the convicts that came to Australia were Irish - including hundreds of rebels. All of the curators and artists in Border Crossings are Irish or have Irish ancestry and have woven historical narratives through their work. The exhibition is curated by Mary Knights, who migrated to Australia as a baby with her Irish mother and English father, and Irish artist Michelle Browne. The exhibition draws on this shared history and looks to contemporary relationships between the coloniser and the colonised, and how the past plays out in the present. Mary Knights notes: ‘Now more than ever, when so many people in the world are dispossessed and seeking asylum, it is important to remember and reflect on the desperation that so many of our own ancestors faced.'Irish performance artists Michelle Browne, Sandra Johnston and Dominic Thorpe are recognised internationally for courageous, provocative performances that interrogate social justice issues and the complexities of history. They engage very directly with audiences, provoke empathy and shatter complacency. The three Australian artists have Irish heritage. Julie Gough is an Indigenous woman from Tasmania and Yhonnie Scarce is an Indigenous woman from Woomera, a desert location in South Australia that was the site of nuclear testing in the 1950s. Sue Kneebone’s Irish ancestors left Ireland after the Great Famine. Researching family histories and historical documents Julie Gough, Yhonnie Scarce and Sue Kneebone explore the complexities of cross-cultural relationships and engagements and ponder how was it that some of their Irish ancestors, so long familiar with the tyranny of colonisation so easily slipped into the role of coloniser, dispossessing the Indigenous people of their land, culture and language.
|Publication status||Published (in print/issue) - 16 Jul 2016|