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"SMASH IT" 2018

Wall text

Wall text

Brook Garru Andrew 

Born 1970, Gadigal Country.
Wiradjuri and Celctic. Lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne, Vic.
Pronouns: he/him

 

"SMASH IT" 2018

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single-channel colour video and sound

28:00 minutes

Collection of The University of Queensland, purchased 2019.

 

SMASH IT is an iconoclastic work that challenges the usefulness of Western laws and structures for Indigenous Australian peoples. In this video work, Brook Garru Andrew re-configures existing narratives and cultural taboos through strategies of montage and remix. Archival film from the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC collides with found footage and media samples from the artist’s own collection, resulting in a cacophony of overlapping screens that jostle for the viewer’s attention. Collaged imagery of defaced monuments to colonial power, interviews, archival material, and text are interjected by footage from Andrew’s 2011 work The Pledge, dismantling dominant historical narratives through contemporary Indigenous voices. 

The Pledge is Andrew’s revision of Charles Chauvel’s 1955 melodrama Jedda, the first Australian feature-length film to star Indigenous actors in the leading roles, and to be shot in colour. In this early work, Andrew re-writes the film’s love story through red text which overlies the moving images, framing the narrative as a science fiction, now including the histories of colonial violence and genocide that the original film overlooks. In a similar manner, SMASH IT brings narratives of both the colonised and coloniser face to face, tackling racist stereotyping of First Nations peoples under settler-colonial governments.

 

Alongside each puzzle piece of disparate media, interviews conducted by the artist with leading Indigenous Australian intellectuals and creatives fill the busy screen. The voices of Marcia Langton, Wesley Enoch, Lyndon Ormond-Parker, and Maxine Briggs are centred among Andrew’s montage, responding to pertinent questions concerning definitions of identity, cultural protocols, and the global repatriation of cultural heritage objects. The resulting answers stimulate discussions on the function of protocols, bringing colonial archives into conversation with the present in a nuanced investigation of nationhood and identity-building for First Nations peoples. Through his archival intervention, Andrew weaves new and subversive narratives for audiences, ending with an invitation: ‘NGAAY’ (a Wiradjuri word meaning ‘to see’).
 

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