On Sacred Land

by Hughes, John, Kennedy, Peter

1983

Duration
18
Original format
video
Exhibition
Figuring Landscapes

"In the early 1980s, the issue of Land Rights was at the sharp political end of Australian Indigenous activism; this work was made in a period when non-Indigenous artists felt there was legitimacy in drawing on Indigenous imagery for the artistic expression of ideas arising from Indigenous issues." Hughes & Kennedy, Melbourne, April 2008

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On Sacred Land was made as one ‘moment’ of an installation comprised of a television monitor and a large ‘history’ painting (270 X 840 cm) by Peter Kennedy. This installation was the third in a series of collaborative installation works generically titled November Eleven. Both ‘moments’ of the installation draw on European imagery, in particular the E. Philips Fox painting Captain Cook at Botany Bay 1770 (1902) and the then little known work of the South-Eastern Australian Aboriginal artist Tommy McRae (c. 1835-1901). On Sacred Land draws on ‘found objects’ of broadcasting, also deploying reference to films, photography and history painting. Sources include reworked ‘grabs’ from a documentary made at Noonkanbah (On Sacred Ground,Oliver Howes,Australia, 1980), community video documentation of an Aboriginal performance regarding sailing ships (Broome, 1979) and airplanes (Arnhemland: the bombing of Darwin by Japan in February 1942). In the early 1980s, the issue of land rights was at the sharp political end of Australian Indigenous activism; this work was made at the end of a period when non-Indigenous artists felt there was legitimacy in drawing on Indigenous imagery for the artistic expression of ideas arising from Indigenous issues. John Hughes and Peter Kennedy, Melbourne, April 2008

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