01 Jun Banksia Released
Atong Atem has released a new series in conjunction with the temporarily paused RISING festival. Winning a bid as part of RISING’s extremely competitive ‘Call to Artists’ program, this work marks Atong’s turn to the moving image.
Exploring the lesser-known history of Australia’s first African settlers, ‘Banksia’ considers migrant stories from a non-colonial perspective. The video – accompanied by an arresting score by Melbourne composer Petra Salsjö – and photographic series work in conjunction to reveal otherwise obscured layers of history on a cinematic scale. The contemporary artwork will look at the experience of African men and women who arrived on the First Fleet in 1788, and use that to question the shaping of policy throughout the centuries that has effected who is determined to be Australian and non-Australian.
Informed by Atong’s experience with migration – having moved to Australia as a refugee in the 90s – this is an evolution of her practice of challenging notions of identity and history. ‘Banksia’ represents an opportunity for the artist to be collaborative, and work in a grander capacity than before, telling her stories in an evocative and meaningful way.
This is also the first series sold in conjunction with Atong’s two new galleries in London and Africa.