Explosive content in BOMB exhibition

25 June 2013

Watch the trailer for BOMB, on display at the Museum of contemporary Aboriginal Art in the Netherlands.

Few countries are as distant from Australia as the Netherlands, but at the Museum of contemporary Aboriginal Art in Utrecht a new exhibition puts Australian black and white relations under the microscope.

Adam Geczy, an artist and a lecturer at the Sydney College of the Arts, has collaborated with the Indigenous artist Blak Douglas (aka Adam Hill) on the exhibition, which they have titled 'BOMB'.

Using murals, installations, photographs, video works and a centrepiece - an old BMW painted by the artists (the 'bomb' of the exhibition title) - Blak Douglas and Adam Geczy show what it is like for a group to be sidelined and how difficult the reconciliation process is.

For Douglas and Geczy the 'bomb' represents the contrast between the commercially successful and often sought-after Aboriginal acrylic paintings on the one hand, and the harsh reality of the exploitation of the Aboriginal population and their culture on the other.

It's one of a series of exhibitions in Utrecht museums this year that mark the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Utrecht, signed in 1713. Whilst the treaty brought a period of relative peace to Europe, it was also crucial in the division of colonial territories among the European powers.

Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries many colonial wars were waged with the original inhabitants of colonial territories, and Australia was no exception. The violent conflicts between the European settlers and the Aboriginal population left deep scars, with consequences that can still be felt today.

Throughout the gallery space, various videos of speakers and actors discussing nationalism and racism dissolve into a cacophony of sound. In a floor installation, red, orange, black and brown golf balls form the word CLUB - a reference to how land sacred to Indigenous Australians has made way for luxury golf courses.

Another work features T-shirts bearing the words 'F**k off We're Full', taken from comments made by white Australians about refugees, even as white Australians themselves are recent inhabitants of a land occupied by Aborigines for over 40 thousand years.

Douglas and Geczy are very critical of imposed symbols such as the Australian flag and the national anthem. Both are known for their outspoken political opinions and activist works, and in BOMB they do away with the often romanticised, mass-marketed image of Australia and Aboriginal culture.

About Blak Douglas (aka Adam Hill)

Blak Douglas is an artist and graphic designer whose work often engages with contemporary Australian politics. A constantly recurring theme in his work is the idea of authenticity and what it means in contemporary Aboriginal society. He is known mainly as a painter, but his oeuvre is very broad, including sculpture, photography and community art projects.

About Adam Geczy

Adam Geczy is an artist as well as a critic, art theorist and educator. His work is dominated by installation, video and performance, but he also exhibits drawings and photography that deal with cultural and political confrontations. His work is regularly shown in Australia and Europe, and he has collaborated closely with Adam Hill for five years.

BOMB will be on show at the AAMU, the only museum in Europe that focuses entirely on contemporary Australian Aboriginal art, until 5 January 2014.

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