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Themes revealed for Archie Moore’s presentation at Venice Biennale, 2024

Joseph Guenzler -

Gamilaroi/Bigambul man Archie Moore, creator of Australia's 2024 Venice Biennale entry, delves into his family's history, exploring the intricate layers of his identity for a holographic map.

The works have been revealed to be titled 'kith and kin'.

'Kith and kin' is a holographic map of relations linking life and death, people and places, circular and linear time, everywhere and everywhen to a site for quiet reflection and remembrance.

Archives on the Scottish/British lineage of Mr Moore's father, born in 1970 in Toowoomba, revealed detailed records of war service.

Notably, his great-great grandfather's history included convict transportation from London to Australia in 1820, granted after a commuted death sentence for theft.

In exploring his mother's Gamilaroi/Bigambul heritage, Mr Moore uncovered letters between authorities and police concerning the "protection" of Aborigines.

These letters delved into queries about the location of his grandparents, with officials stipulating the necessity of permission for marriage.

Tragically, Moore's mother passed away last year.

"There was a huge amount of surveillance going on," Mr Moore said at the unveiling of the work's title, kith and kin, at The Commercial Gallery in inner-western Sydney.

Mr Moore is only Australia's second solo Indigenous artist for the Venice Biennale, following Tracey Moffatt's 2017 commission.

Australia Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, 2024.

After a visit to the Venice pavilion last year, Mr Moore is discreet about his upcoming artwork's appearance and the decision to employ holographics for his map.

"I like to play with language, and it will be revealed," he said,

Mr Moore said an old English definition of kith dating from the 14th century meant "countrymen" but also "one's own land", while kin referred to "family members".

"Just thinking of Indigenous ways of thinking about the land, the land was part of the kinship system; it could also be a teacher or a mentor or a parent to a child," he said.

"Every living thing on the land was your kin, part of the kinship system, so I was drawn to that title because it aptly described what I was going to do."

In his research, Moore found two photos featuring his Aboriginal great-great-grandmother.

White pastoralists gave her a breastplate labeling her as "Queen Susan of Welltown," corresponding to a sheep-shearing property in Bungunya, Goondiwindi, Queensland.

An article noted her discomfort with its weight, prompting reflection on her apparent resistance to its symbolism.

Mr Moore also shared that his Kamilaroi/Bigambul great uncle faced imprisonment in Brisbane's Boggo Road jail in 1933.

According to Mr Moore, the imprisonment resulted from an incident where his great uncle "accidentally killed his father in a fight," gaining significant media attention.

Mr Moore highlighted a dispute over proper wages, shedding light on the historical issue of Indigenous people being denied their earnings.

Curator of Australia's participation at the Venice Biennale, Ellie Buttrose said "Archie is very much looking at his own family history."

"But it is very much (also) the history of Australia, it's a history of the continent, it's a history of a people that goes back 65,000 years."

"I think we can all can connect in a different way to stories of family."

The Australia Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia is located at Giardini di Castello 30122.

The press preview is scheduled for 17 - 19 April 2024, with the exhibition running from 20 April to 24 November 2024.


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