Brook Andrew is one of Australia’s leading Indigenous artists and the Artistic Director of the 22nd Biennale of Sydney: NIRIN. His interdisciplinary practice frequently subverts dominant narratives through interventions into colonial archives and their embedded ideologies. Ethnographic photographs, newspaper excerpts, film footage and other cultural objects are often co-opted and reframed to dismantle racist stereotypes of First Nations people.
SMASH IT (2018) is an iconoclastic work that challenges the usefulness of Western laws and structures for Indigenous Australians. As the artist’s first foray into moving image, it connects with his broader practice through strategies of montage and remix as a means of critique. Archival film from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC collides with found footage and media samples from the artist’s collection. A series of overlapping screens jostle for the viewer’s attention, articulating our hyper-mediated present.
In this video work, Andrew re-configures existing narratives and interrogates cultural taboos. Pertinent questions are posed to leading Indigenous Australian intellectuals and creatives such as anthropologist and geographer Marcia Langton AM and playwright and artistic director Wesley Enoch. Among other questions, they are asked ‘Who they are and how do they define themselves?’ The resulting answers stimulate discussion on the function of protocol, rules and whom they actually serve. Issues around the global repatriation of cultural heritage objects, concepts of Keeping Places, and definitions of identity generate divergent responses. Conflicting belief systems across indigeneity are juxtaposed with imagery of demolished and defaced Western statuary and monuments to colonial power. Humanity is revealed as a complex web of stories, opinions and histories that we are all entangled in.
SMASH IT 2018
single colour video projection with audio
Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2019
Courtesy the artist and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney