Jasmine Togo-Brisby: It Is Not a Place

20 April

June 16, 2024

Institute of Modern Art

A fourth-generation Australian-South Sea Islander, Jasmine Togo-Brisby examines the Pacific slave trade and its impact on those who trace their roots to Australia through its practices. Her great-great-grandparents were forced into the slave trade as children, taken from Vanuatu to work as domestic servants, and later on a plantation.

Togo-Brisby conjures with an iconography of tall ships, decorative ceilings, and crow feathers. Her ships remind us of the dangerous vessels that transported tens of thousands of South Sea Islanders to Australia; the decorative ceilings recall those made by the Wunderlich family in Sydney, to whom her ancestors were indentured; and the crow feathers refer to ‘blackbirding’, a euphemism for the Pacific slave trade.

The exhibition features two major new works—a sculpture and a video. In the sculpture, crow feathers seep from a decorative ceiling rosette in a return of the repressed—reminding us of the violence modern ‘civil’ Australian society was built on. In the video—a haunting computer animation—a tall ship, made of crow feathers, sails on a churning ocean, also crafted from crow feathers. The ship occasionally opens its mouth to suck up the sea. Togo-Brisby describes it as a zombie ship, ‘both alive and dead, moving yet not moving’.

 

Presented as a part of Tropical Ecologies, the IMA’s Queensland-artist commissioning program. Supported by the IMA Commissioners Circle.

Image: Jasmine Togo-Brisby ‘Passage’ 2022. Photo: Jim Culle

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