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Obsolete? Artist, Object, Small Museum. Nicole Barakat, Aleshia Lonsdale & Fiona MacDonald

BY The Cross Art Projects | 05-Aug-2017
For the exhibition, Obsolete? Artist, Object, Small Museum, artists Nicole Barakat, Aleshia Lonsdale and Fiona MacDonald apply their creative and investigatory flair to consider a museum in Kandos about 4 hours west from Sydney.
For the exhibition, Obsolete? Artist, Object, Small Museum, artists Nicole Barakat, Aleshia Lonsdale and Fiona MacDonald apply their creative and investigatory flair to consider a museum in Kandos about 4 hours west from Sydney. The title asks a central question: how can ordinary lives, then and now, and provincial objects randomly collected here or there, illuminate Big Picture issues? The artists use contemporary art’s collaborative processes to create a regional historiography that engages critical national conversations on the events, policy and propaganda that have subjugated Indigenous people and on current environmental and land contest.

Kandos once a participant in the national narrative as “the town whose cement helped build Sydney”, was made obsolete when the cement works closed in 2011. Two years later this small museum and its company town archive and idiosyncratic collection of relics was to be closed but, since then, volunteers and stakeholders have worked together to create a new narrative to participate in public life. Nicole Barakat, Aleshia Lonsdale and Fiona MacDonald have each engaged with the musem and local ambiguity of place.

The temporary collective of artworks in Obsolete? Artist, Object, Small Museum, mirrors the wild-lands of community collections: outside the museum’s drive for identity and power and the art museum’s demands for difference and the ‘new’. The starting point for all the artists is Australia’s ongoing dispossession of First Nations peoples. The artists’ works veer from the anti-canonical and comic to the profound, etched with individual hopes, follies and tragedies. Their strategies sheds light on how in-groups assign value and claim History: using a theatrical mix of assemblage and performance, making and unmaking of ‘quotidian’ or everyday artefacts and objects. This is a world turned upside down.