Not Niwe, Not Nieuw, Not Neu
Thursday 26 October, 6-8pm
- When 27 Oct - 10 Dec 2017
181–187 Hay Street Sydney NSW 2000 Australia
TUES TO FRI, 11AM-5PM, THURS 11AM-8PM, SAT TO SUN, 11AM-4PM
An incisive new transhistorical exhibition at 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (4A) titled Not Niwe, Not Nieuw, Not Neu explores the work of artists who disturb the past, by reframing and reworking the mythologies of nationhood established and led by the scientific botanical work by Sir Joseph Banks of the HMS Endeavour.
The voyage of the HMS Endeavour from 1768 – 1771, led by the then little-known Lieutenant James Cook with botanist Joseph Banks, collected a staggering number of samples of plant life from across the Asia Pacific – with approximately, 30 000 specimens from Australia and New Zealand alone, representing 3 000 species, of which 1600 were wholly new to science.
The scale of this taxonomy, the science of naming and defining plant and animal life, for these pioneers, was without precedent and in many cases, efforts to identify and classify them resulted in unstable, even flawed, systems of vocabulary, hierarchies and methods to describe this ‘new world’.
Many of these instances have outlasted the figures that created them, for example, Cook named the name for “Kangaroo” phonetically after ‘gangurru’, the term used by Aborigines on the North-East coast for local, large, grey marsupials – which was then accepted by Britain. Had Cook realised the plurality of Aboriginal language and that this word was foreign to most tribes in Australia, the outcome would have been very different. Nevertheless, examples like this set the template for generations of legends and myths.
Curated by Michael Do (UNSW Art & Design graduate) with assistance from Talia Smith the Not Niwe, Not Nieuw, Not Neu exhibition artists draw upon and explore these conflicting (and occasionally confounding) myths. By investigating and subverting the colonial prejudices of language and nature, the artists suggest new connections and frameworks for understanding these legacies – forging a new order from the precarious vestiges and remainders of the so-called ‘new world’.
A selection of archival and recent works by artists including Sir Joseph Banks (United Kingdom), Daniel Boyd (Australia), Newell Harry (Australia) (UNSW Art & Design graduate), Fiona Pardington (New Zealand), Michael Parekowhai (New Zealand) and James Tylor (Australia) are brought together for this exhibition. The project includes a series of Banks’ copperplate etchings of Australian botanical illustrations rarely seen in a contemporary exhibition context.
This exhibition continues 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art’s influential series of exhibition projects that examine the shared histories and ties between Australia and our Asia-Pacific neighbours.