DUST TO DUST explores the evolution of collective memory, and the function of public monuments in society. Society’s relationship with icons and monuments are in a constant state of flux. Coupled with the Black Lives Matter Movement, a increased awareness of the traditional custodians of the land, and the simultaneous COVID-19 pandemic, the
moral accountability and achievements of memorialised figures, such as former colonisers and diplomats, has been questioned, and statues removed, destroyed, or in other ways contested.
Monuments reflecting Australia’s past as a British colony dot Naarm (Melbourne), these include Captain Cook, Queen Victoria, and until recently John Batman. Upon community reflection, the elevated status of these figures is being reconsidered due to the historic and continuing trauma they’ve caused, largely too First Nations people. These figures tell a very Eurocentric narrative and a fraction of the actual historical events.
My practice use the principles of bricolage, something constructed from a diverse range of things, to bring together academic research and imagery. My own photographs are
collaged with historical imagery from local archives of wider Melbourne and landscapes. For example, motifs of monuments are collaged into the Melbourne Museum, the Yarra River and other sites to create local conversations and connections. Aesthetically the handling of paint suggests the real and imagined, used symbolically to encourage dialogue around the function of memorialisation in public spaces. The works communicate that re-presenting icons away from their expected public context can educate and empower communities, rather than continuing to bury the unpleasant facts of historical narratives that no longer serve us.
The work draws on local history to encourage necessary conversations amongst the community to happen, while responding to the current movement of decolonising public spaces.