11 June 2013 until 5 January 2014: BOMB by Blak Douglas and Adam Geczy
PLEASE CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE TRAILER OF BOMB
The exhibition BOMB is a striking, fascinating, at time humorous spectacle. It is an intense confrontation with nationalism, racism and discrimination. Artists Blak Douglas (aka Adam Hill) and Adam Geczy staged this exhibition for the AAMU in connection with the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht. BOMB will show a different side to the legendary European negotiations relating to the Treaty.
Peace here, war there
The Treaty of Utrecht, signed in 1713, brought a period of relative peace to Europe. This Treaty was also crucial in the division of colonial territories among the European powers. However, throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries many colonial wars were waged with the original inhabitants of colonial territories, and Australia was no exception. The violent conflicts between the European settlers and the Aboriginal population left deep scars, with consequences that can still be seen and felt today.
Nationalism and oppression
The art works in BOMB show the effects of extreme nationalism, the relationship between the oppressors and the oppressed, and discrepancies between black and white. In multimedia installations, videos, murals, performances and photographs Blak Douglas and Adam Geczy show what it is like to be sidelined as a group and how difficult the reconciliation process is. In their art works Douglas and Geczy propose radical change and are very critical of imposed symbols such as the Australian flag and the national anthem.
This is the first spontaneous close collaboration on such a scale between an artist with an Aboriginal and an artist with a European-Australian background. Douglas and Geczy are both known for their outspoken political opinions and activist works, and in BOMB they do away with the often romanticised, mass-marketed image of Australia and Aboriginal culture.
The work from which the exhibition takes its title is an old BMW which will be painted on location. 'Bombs' are old cars that are not fit to be driven but sometimes still are, often bij Aboriginal people; old cars like this are often abandoned in the Australian outback. This work is also a critical reference to the car Aboriginal artist Michael Nelson Tjakamara painted in 1989 for the BMW Art Car Project. For Douglas and Geczy this work represents the contrast between the commercially successful and often much sought-after Aboriginal acrylic paintings on the one hand and the harsh reality of the exploitation of the Aboriginal population and their culture on the other.
Australia - the missed opportunity
Throughout the gallery space, various videos of speakers and actors talking about nationalism and racism will dissolve into a cacaphony of sound. In a floor installation, red, orange, black and brown golf balls form the word CLUB; the land with with the Aboriginals have had a spiritual bond for thousands of years has had to make way for luxury golf courses. At the same time this work speaks about how certain Aboriginal groups club together to the detriment of themselves. Another suite of work involves T-shirts bearing the words Fuck off We're Full, taken from comments made by white Australians about refugees. With this work the artists state that the problem is that white Australians themselves are recent inhabitants to a land that had been occupied by Aborigines for over forty thousand years.
The exhibition catalogue will be available from mid July (Snoeck Publishing, Belgium) and will contain photos of all art works and the preparations and performances as well as essays by Alisa Duff (Head of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Program, National Museum of Australia), Ian McLean (Research Professor at the University of Wollongong), Maurice O'Riordan (editor Art Monthly magazine), Georges Petitjean (curator of the AAMU) and the artists.
Utrecht celebrates peace!
Three hundred years ago the Treaty of Utrecht - a global peace treaty - was signed. In 2013 this event will be celebrated and commemorated with an international cultural programme in the city, in neighbourhoods and in the region. The Treaty of Utrecht is an initiative of the municipality and province of Utrecht. Please click here to go to their website.
This exhibition was made possible by support from the Treaty of Utrecht, the VSB Fonds, the KF Hein Fonds, the Mondrian Foundation and Rabobank Utrecht.
About Blak Douglas (aka Adam Hill)
Blak Douglas is an artist and graphic designer and is known for the powerful art works in which he engages in direct conflict with the current Australian political situation. A constantly recurring theme in his work is the idea of authenticity and what it means in contemporary Aboriginal society. He is known mainly as a painter, but his oeuvre is very broad, including sculpture, photography and community art projects.
About Adam Geczy
Adam Geczy is an artist as well as a critic, art theorist and educator. His work is dominated by installation, video and performance, but he also often has exhibitions of drawings and photography that deal with cultural and political confrontations. He exhibits regularly in Australia and Europe and has collaborated closely with Adam Hill for some five years.