‘Manifesto’ brings together works from the Merri-bek Art Collection that demonstrate how words relate to action. The exhibition features artist books, paintings, textiles, prints and photography.
Text-based works such as ‘Rent’ by Jordan Marani highlight the rental crisis in Melbourne and the impact of gentrification on artists. Meanwhile, Deanna Hitti’s artist book, ‘The Country Justice’, contains more than 1,000 covers of books that have been banned around the world. Such works emphasise the importance of language as a mode of political resistance.
Other works in this exhibition draw on archives or personal histories to counter colonial systems of knowledge-keeping. A newly acquired print by Gunditjmara artist Vicki Couzens is an example of her reclamation and celebration of Indigenous languages. Likewise, a lithograph by Megan Cope re-presents the story of Eulope (also known as ‘The Black Napoleon’) to assert the sovereignty of First Nations people. Eulope was a Quandamooka man named after Buonaparte because of his leadership in battles against British forces, who invaded Stradbroke Island in the early 1800s. Cope’s work addresses the fact that Eulope’s sovereignty is not recognised in imperial archives.
The artists in ‘Manifesto’ recognise words are powerful. Their works explore how language shapes culture through wordplay, declaration, satire and storytelling.
‘Manifesto’ includes works by Megan Cope, Vicki Couzens, Emily Floyd, Deanna Hitti, Hootan Heydari, Alana Holmberg, Ruth Maddison, Jordan Marani, Ben McKeown, Brian McKinnon, Chips Mackinolty, George Matoulas, Hayley Millar Baker, Monica Oppen, Rose Nolan, Carol Porter, Steven Rhall and Kelvin Skewes.
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This exhibition is in the Front Gallery.