More than 2000 broad arrows/maraong manaouwi (the Gadigal word for emu footprints) made from red and white gravel sourced from Gadigal country will be stencilled across the courtyard of Hyde Park Barracks in Macquarie Street.

For three weeks, visitors will walk over the work, gradually eroding and changing it until it returns to the earth.

“The work gets pushed into the site and stays there, so we will be sort of adding another layer on top of the site,” says Jones, whose work skin and bones was selected for the 2016 iteration of the prestigious Kaldor Public Art Project.

Jones is fascinated by how Aboriginal culture fits into Australia’s convict origin story, which is represented so powerfully by the Francis Greenway-designed convict barracks.

“How do we start, not so much mending bridges but start telling or including Aboriginal stories within a building that represents that big colonial narrative?” he says. “Where does Aboriginality fit into a history that has been designed to erase it?”

Jones says it is particularly appropriate that the installation should be temporary rather than have a permanent physical presence.

“The notion of ownership is under question here,” he says. “Aboriginal people don’t ever own a place; they talk about looking after it. And when you look at emu footprints tracking across country, obviously they get washed away pretty quickly.”

Just as some people live more lightly on the land than others, Jones is looking forward to the physical changes that will happen to his work.

“Some people just naturally sort of smash things up, and then there’s just people who walk really lightly,” he says. “It’s not a bad thing. It’s just how people walk and how people connect with places.”

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