Michael Cook is one of Australia’s most exciting and acclaimed contemporary Indigenous artists whose work is rapidly attracting international atten- tion. In testament to Cook’s talent and vision, his work will be exhibited in Venice, London and The Netherlands in 2015 and has also been curated into a number of institutional exhibitions throughout Australia.
Cook’s photographs explore European settlement of Australia and the lack of recognition afforded to the country’s original Indigenous people, who had lived on the land for thousands of years. Narratives are re-imagined and reclaimed in his images, which muddle and reverse racial and social roles. Cook, who is from Queensland’s Bidjara people, envisages how different history could have been and in doing so calls into question entrenched attitudes.
‘While inequality exists, I’ll pursue an art that highlights human bias and challenges my audience’s interaction with the work, and society at large.’ (Michael Cook, 2015)
Cook’s panoramic new series of photographs Object will be exhibited at Palazzo Mora, Venice during the 56th Venice Biennale from May to No- vember 2015. In Object, Indigenous figures assume the roles of Victorian nobility. In their plush, moneyed surrounds they, literally, impose control over their human chattels.
‘Object uses a reversal to depict the historic interracial inhumanity once routinely practiced - a black person ‘owned’ by a white - and drives home the depravity of carelessly objectifying people. This is, arguably, Cook’s strongest series yet in a developing oeuvre that has brought him critical acclaim.’ (Louise Martin-Chew, 2015)
Work from his earlier Civilised series will be shown at the British Museum, London from April to August 2015 in ‘Indigenous Australia; enduring civilisation’, the first major exhibition in the United Kingdom presenting a history of Indigenous Australia and celebrating the strength and resilience of Aboriginal people.
Until April, his photographs will also be shown at the AAMU Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art, The Netherlands in ‘Saltwater Country’, which showcases the works of exceptional artists from Queensland.