Livin’ The Dream – Photo 2021: Horsham Regional Gallery

Michael Cook

23 Jan - 14 Mar 2021

In Livin’ the dream, Cook offers a retake on Australian history by imagining a contemporary Indigenous community with Aboriginals living the lifestyle prescribed by white norms. The disjuncture between the reality of Indigenous life and the white Australian dream/ideal raises the questions ‘what makes a person civilised?’ and suggests how different history might have been if those Europeans had realised that the Aborigines were indeed civilised. Cook asks provocative questions: If the British had realised Aborigines were indeed civilised, would history have been different?

Cook’s photographic works reinterpret Australian history and reframe entrenched narratives through the eyes of Indigenous Australians. His carefully choreographed images reflect on notions of truth and identity and consider how art and images shape history and cultural memory. The images explore the continued effects and ongoing aftermath of colonisation and cultural marginalisation.

The works are characterized by a dramatic and seductive aesthetic. His highly staged and carefully constructed images are realised in a monochromatic palette that gives the work a timeless and wholly contemporary quality.