Grayson Cooke

Festivals, Events & Exhibitions

UNSETTLED

UNSETTLED is about colonial ruin in the Flinders Ranges – it is a creative and documentary project that questions the stories we as Australians tell ourselves about our colonial past.

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Ruins. You know you love them.

The abandoned farmhouse, the crumbling outback hotel; they’re romantic, nostalgic places, just waiting for you to pull over, nip through the gate or over the fence, and whip out your smartphone for a few choice snaps…

But how can we understand these places? Ruins are rich sites of personal and collective memory, they speak of challenge, of overcoming, of despair. They are visible testament to the forces of nature and history – and in Australia, they speak of Indigenous dispossession just as much as they speak of settler-colonial struggle.

UNSETTLED is about colonial ruin in the Flinders Ranges – an area of immense natural beauty and cultural significance, and an area that is littered with colonial ruins, many now popular tourist sites. In re-thinking the figure of the ruin, this project questions the stories we as Australians tell ourselves about our colonial past, through a combination of media art, archival research, and documentary interviews with Adnyamathanha people and other residents of the Flinders Ranges.

UNSETTLED is slated for exhibition at the State Library of South Australia in 2017 – but we really need your help to get there!

AND – because we’ve received MATCH funding from Creative Partnerships Australia, every dollar you donate will be doubled, up to $10,000. That’s a mainline to the purse-strings of philanthropic Australia!

Archival Research

We have partnered with the State Library of South Australia and the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association on this project. Together, we will be trawling through the State Library’s incredible collection of photographs and documents from the 19th and 20th centuries.

For example, only a small selection of anthropologist Charles Mountford’s images from his 1930s expeditions to Nepabunna Mission have ever been exhibited. They consist of joyful portraits and unique cultural insights into life on an Aboriginal Mission in the early 20th century. This project will present images from the Mountford collection and others, in the context of a critical reflection on colonial history and its representation.

The Exhibition

We have spent the last 18 months in pre-production, conducting site visits, screen tests, and meeting with partners and participants; and we still have a lot more work to do. Then, come early 2017, we’ll have an exhibition to put together, with media art and archival materials in The Institute Room, and a night-time screening on “The Storywall” projection space in the State Library forecourt.

And all of this costs a lot of money – we need to hire research assistants, a composer, a programmer, print photos and hire equipment. But thanks to Creative Partnerships Australia’s MATCH program, every dollar you give to this campaign will be matched dollar for dollar, provided we reach our campaign target of $10,000.

So, if you’d like to help us bring this exhibition to life at the State Library in 2017, you know what to do!

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Dea Morgain works for government developing health promotion frameworks with Aboriginal communities. She has extensive experience managing complex budgets with multiple partners, including media arts projects. Dea did her arts training, majoring in photography, in the 1990s, and has done bits and pieces over the years, including post-graduate study in psychology and running film resource organisation OpenChannel. UNSETTLED is her largest arts project for several years and she is super excited!

Grayson Cooke is an interdisciplinary scholar and media artist, Associate Professor of Media in the School of Arts and Social Sciences at Southern Cross University. Grayson has presented media art and live audio-visual performance works in Australia and internationally, and he has exhibited and performed in major international festivals such as the Japan Media Arts Festival, the WRO Media Art Biennale, and the FILE Festival in Sao Paulo. He holds an interdisciplinary PhD from Concordia University in Montreal.

Grayson’s work, both scholarly and creative, has focused extensively on questions of the use of archives and archival materials. His collaboration with sound artist Mike Cooper, “Outback and Beyond”, was the winner of a “New Face” award in the 16th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2012. This project used materials from the National Film and Sound Archive and the State Library of South Australia to produce a “live Australian Western”; it used archival materials and the Revisionist Western film genre to question Australia’s colonial histories and their representation.

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