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.
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).
Professor Sarah Maddison is Professor of Politics in the School of Social and Political Sciences, and Director of the Australian Centre. She is particularly interested in work that helps reconceptualise political relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Australian settler state, including critical examinations of a range of relevant public policies. Her recent work has focused on the treaty process in Victoria, and she is currently working with the Australian Centre’s Deputy Director, Julia Hurst, exploring the role of truth-telling in treaty making. Sarah has also designed the Professional Certificate in Treaty, which includes the Preparing for Treaty series of Melbourne MicroCerts.
Sarah has published widely in international journals and is the author or editor of nine books including, most recently, The Colonial Fantasy: Why white Australia can’t solve black problems (2019). Her other books in the field include The Limits of Settler Colonial Reconciliation (2016), Conflict Transformation and Reconciliation (2015), Beyond White Guilt (2011), Unsettling the Settler State (2011), and Black Politics (2009). Sarah has led numerous research projects and was an Australian Research Council Future Fellow for 2011-14, undertaking a project that examined reconciliation in Australia, South Africa, Northern Ireland, and Guatemala. Her current ARC project is exploring intersections in Indigenous and settler governance regimes.
The presenters have granted permission for this recording to be used for personal viewing and educational purposes.