Michael Cook is a Brisbane-based photomedia artist of Bidjara heritage. Cook’s photographs restage colonial-focused histories and re-image the contemporary reality of indigenous populations. Touching on the discriminatory nature of society, his images muddle racial and social roles ‘painting’ a picture of a societal structure reversed. Cook invites viewers to speculate Indigenous cultures living at the forefront, even a majority, rather than manipulated to live within the confines of a white man’s world. Cook’s images challenge our ingrained belief systems yet do not offer judgement – they are observational, asking questions without proffering neat prescriptive conclusions.
Recent major exhibitions include at the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, the Musee d’ethnographie de Geneve, Switzerland; National Gallery of Singapore; AAMU Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art, The Netherlands; the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. His exhibitions include Personal Structures – Crossing Borders at Palazzo Mora during the 56th Venice Biennale; Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilization at The British Museum, London.
Cook’s work has been acquired by institutions including the British Museum, National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales and Art Gallery of Western Australia.