Counter-monuments: Challenging distorted colonial histories through contemporary art and memorial practices

This webinar is the fourth in the Australian Centre's 2022 Critical Public Conversations series: Undoing Australia.

Increasingly across the globe, statues and monuments celebrating imperial conquest and colonial oppression are being defaced, recontextualised, removed by authorities or spectacularly toppled by protestors. It is evident from such acts that public memorials have become significant sites for inciting debate and action on the histories and ongoing legacies of colonial and racist violence.

In Australia, it is routinely noted that there are contradictions in public remembrances that tend to honour white settler lives and accomplishments over Indigenous ones, and a culture of active silence on the violence of colonialism in public presentations of the past. In response, many contemporary Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists have produced public "counter-monuments" to make visible contested histories. In this lecture, Genevieve Grieves and Amy Spiers will discuss how the public’s view of colonial history and its legacies can be confronted and transformed through creative counter-monument practice by drawing on a number of contemporary Australian examples.

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Presenters: 

Genevieve Grieves a proud Worimi woman, has more than 20 years’ experience creating dynamic content for film and television, exhibitions, online and multimedia. Her work has consistently won awards and recognition and she is regarded as a leading practitioner of community-engaged content development. Genevieve has a strong leadership role in the arts and cultural sector, contributing to the development of key organisations and also mentoring many emerging First Peoples creatives.

Dr Amy Spiers is an artist, writer and researcher specialising in public and socially engaged art. She is currently a Vice Chancellor Postdoctoral Research Fellow at RMIT School of Art, and has co-edited Let’s Go Outside: Art in Public with Charlotte Day and Callum Morton for Monash University Museum of Art (Monash University Publishing 2022). In 2021 she co-convened with Genevieve Grieves the online symposium hosted by ACCA, Counter-monuments: Indigenous settler relations in Australian contemporary art and memorial practices, and they are co-editing a book on Counter-monuments (Springer, forthcoming 2022).