Karrabing Film Collective
Night Fishing with Ancestors

★☆☆☆☆

On until 14 January 2024

Karrabing seems like a model grassroots political art project until one pays any attention to its content. Thirty indigenous Australians run around with cameras and retell the myths of their ancestors in a fantasy freestyle havoc. Most of the films hinge on the ‘white man’ who comes and steals or otherwise disrupts the sacred equilibrium between nature and the Emmi people. In many, the moral is that this white man should be punished, perhaps violently, and ideally by the Emmi. Reactionary calls for a race war are as near as explicit.

But one has to study the film credits to understand that all this is not a spontaneous uprising. Except for the stories – and mind that every culture has myths of external aggressors – the whole enterprise is produced and underwritten by a bunch of Australian academics. The entire project’s life in the art world thus hinges on the Emmi’s continued misery and the even more pernicious myth that they are forever the model victims of the Australian nation-state. Little separates this display from a human zoo complete with curators who occasionally kettle-prod the once noble savage into a spectacular rage. 


notes and notices are short and curt exhibition reviews. Read more:

Anastasia Pavlou, Reader at Hot Wheels ★★☆☆☆

Anastasia Pavlou

Reader, Part 2; The Reader Reads Words in Sentences

★★☆☆☆

In this game of aesthetic cognition, the idea which survives is of the artist thinking.

Mandy El-Sayegh, Interiors at Thaddeus Ropac ★★☆☆☆

Mandy El-Sayegh

Interiors

★★☆☆☆

For the abundance of material, there simply aren’t enough ideas in the exhibition to go around these Mayfair interiors.

Some May Work as Symbols at Raven Row ★★★★☆

Some May Work as Symbols: Art Made in Brazil, 1950s–70s

★★★★☆

Art history can catch modernity in splitting from the past and thus from itself.

Siobhan Liddell, Been and Gone at Hollybush Gardens ★★☆☆☆

Siobhan Liddell

Been and Gone

★★☆☆☆

A twee aesthetics native to a grandmother’s mantlepiece collection of tourist souvenirs and devotional figurines.

Joshua Leon, The Missing O and E at Chisenhale Gallery ★☆☆☆☆

Joshua Leon

The Missing O and E

★☆☆☆☆

This embarrassing display indicts today’s second-fiddlers with narcissism and egomania.

Shu Lea Cheang at Project Native Informant ★★☆☆☆

Shu Lea Cheang

Scifi New Queer Cinema, 1994-2023

★★☆☆☆

With material this gratuitously explicit and a curator this absent, it’s a miracle that this project wasn’t shut down by the licencing, or indeed art-historical authorities.

×