Archie Moore becomes the second solo Aboriginal artist to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale

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The Kamilaroi and Bigambul artist Archie Moore will represent Australia at next year’s Venice Biennale, making him only the second solo First Nations artist to represent Australia at the world’s oldest international contemporary art event.

Based in Redlands, Queensland, the 52-year-old will represent the Australian Pavilion in 2024, seven years after Tracey Moffatt did so in 2017.

On Wednesday, Moore said: “The opportunity to show my work to an international audience is a great honor and privilege.”

Neither Moore nor the Australia Council would reveal details about the project, which has yet to be named, but the artist said his Biennial work “would be about something I feel strongly about”, including his family history and memories of where he grew up. in southeastern Queensland.

He said his family’s history was “something I’ve been avoiding”, but now he was “looking at the family tree, 60,000 years back”.

Asked if he felt any pressure to represent Australia, Moore said: “I won’t let you down.”

Moore’s previous works include painting, sculpture and textiles, often grappling with his memories, racism and the Australian sense of national identity.

The artist has previously said “memory is somewhere in all my work”. Since 2010, he’s created four versions of his childhood home in Tara: last year he built it in Victoria’s Gertrude Contemporary gallery, complete with the scent of Dettol. — if we weren’t taken care of, clean enough,” he said in an interview.

And in 2014, he teamed up with a master perfumer to create a series of “perfume portraits” that evoked moments from his childhood, including the smell of graphite pencils and paper at school, and the smell of his aunts. In 2018, a retrospective of his career was exhibited at the Griffith University Art Museum as a series of recreated memories of Moore’s childhood in rural South East Queensland.

Flags and language are common themes: his work United Neytions – 28 large flags with designs used by Aboriginal nations on their shields, bodies and in art – hangs permanently in Sydney Airport’s International Terminal, while his 2015 installation 14 Queensland Nations (Nations imagined by RH Mathews) saw him make flags for the Aboriginal nations, mapped by Mathews, a 19th century anthropologist.

His 2022 work Inert State included 200 redacted coroner’s reports of the death of an Indigenous person in custody that were circulated in a swimming pool at the Queensland Art Gallery, all dating back to 2008, the year the then Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, made his apologized to the stolen generations.

For the 2013 National Artists’ Self-Portrait Award, he submitted a stuffed dog with shoe polish, titled Black Dog. “Skin was an identifier of who I was and what status I held — not in the long-gone birthright of a traditional ‘skin name,’ but in racial slurs we’ve all heard and still hear,” Moore said at the time.

Queensland Art Gallery’s Curator of Contemporary Australian Art, Ellie Buttrose, will be curating Moore’s work at the Biennale. She described Moore as “exceptional in his ability to engage audiences on an emotional level through memories and family stories in artworks that stimulate discussion about how we bear responsibility for social change”.

Related: John Akomfrah represents Great Britain at the Venice Biennale

“Artistically deft and politically astute, Archie is uniquely placed to confront Australia’s past and assert Indigenous sovereignty on a global scale,” she added.

Trevor Nickolls and Rover Thomas were the first Aboriginal artists to represent Australia in Venice, in 1990, but did so in the same year; Judy Watson, Yvonne Koolmatrie and Emily Kngwarreye followed as a trio in 1997.

Moffatt became the first Aboriginal artist to represent the country as a solo artist in 2017. But in 2019, artist Richard Bell made a memorable appearance at the Biennale after applying to take part in Australia’s official show only to be turned down; the husband of Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang organized a sculptural replica of the Australian pavilion to sail around the canal city on a motorized ship, wrapped in chains.

The Australian Pavilion will be on display from April 20 to November 24, 2024, marking the country’s 25th year of participation in the Biennale.

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