Institute of Modern Art: Haunt

Megan Cope

13 Apr - 8 Jun 2019

In an age marked by mass migration, technologically accelerated dislocation, and rapid urban development, notions of home and belonging need to be imagined anew. At once located and displaced, how to live together is one of the crucial questions of our time. These ideas have even greater urgency in settler-colonial contexts where notions of ownership have very real consequences historically and in the present. Artists in this exhibition—Zanny Begg, Heman Chong, Fiona Connor, Megan Cope, Brian Jungen andDuane Linklater, Joar Nango, Christian Nyampeta, and Amie Siegel—present works focusing on the conceptions, creations, developments, and experiences of home as they are affected by colonialism, urban development, and gentrification. Ultimately, a growing population, changing climate, and dwindling natural resources demand that we re-imagine what our shared future can look like.


Here Cope presents RE FORMATION. The work takes the form of a midden, mimicking the mounds of discarded organic matter that accumulated in Aboriginal communities. During Australia’s early colonial period, Europeans used these middens as a source of lime, which they burnt to create mortar for buildings.

Cope thinks of middens as a form of ‘Aboriginal architecture’. They are man-made structures that trace a record of occupation and culture over many centuries, debunking the colonial claim that Australia was terra nullius, or unoccupied territory.

In RE FORMATION, thousands of hand-cast shells are arranged in a bed of copper slag, a by-product of copper extraction. Together, they connect the historical and continuing decimation of sacred sits by mining and other commercial activities.