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Date Posted

February 27th, 2019

Massacre sites across Australia lie silenced and hidden from public knowledge on colonised lands.

During a 12-month residency at the Koorie Heritage Trust, Peta Clancy collaborated with the Dja Dja Wurrung community (Bendigo region of Central Victoria) to research, develop and create a major series of large format landscape photographs exploring frontier violence and massacre sites on Dja Dja Wurrung Country.

Undercurrent is a solo exhibition by Bangarang artist Peta Clancy and opens Saturday 9 March until Sunday 28 April 2019 at the Koorie Heritage, Yarra Building, Federation Square.   

Her artistic response to the massacre sites has been informed by extensive consultation with the Traditional Owners and in collaboration with Elders and community members.

Using cutting and layering techniques, Clancy’s work references the emotional and cultural scars left in the landscape by frontier violence, which have been historically and physically covered up by subsequent colonial occupation. By scarring the photographs, Clancy depicts the layers of time – of history, memory and place, uncovering the layers of colonization and the continuing emotional and cultural effect on the land and the community from massacres that occurred there generations before.

‘’When I visit the sites and create the work, I am trying to reconcile with the knowledge that violence that occurred at the site. I aim to create landscapes that contain multiple perspectives; historically and temporally. Like two worlds/histories existing in the one place. The images aim to reconcile these perspectives as well as suggest a disconnection between two distinct ways of perceiving the land,’’ says Peta Clancy.

She continues, ‘’I also think about overlaying of the images as blocking and disrupting the view, as a means to suggest that there is something that is hidden and not revealed in the landscape I am photographing. By creating the scarred images, I aim to suggest the trauma of the past and to give this a presence in the landscape. The images are cut, yet rendered whole again, but the cut remains in the image as a visual trace of the traumatic history and events that occurred within that landscape.’’

Clancy spent six months consulting with the Dja Dja Wurrung community, seeking their permission to undertake the project, and a further 12 months working collaboratively with the community throughout the creation of the work, making site visits, having conversations with Elders, and working closely with Mick Bourke and Amos Atkinson.

Undercurrent will feature an installation with large-scale, 5m wide x 3.4m high, wallpaper prints and upon this a series of smaller scaled framed photographs.

Clancy’s photographs are created over a period of many months.  They involve her revisiting the sites repeatedly, at different times of the day and varying weather conditions.

She then returns to the exact locations with large-scale photographic prints. The print covers the entire view within the frame of the camera.  Clancy then cuts into the print to reveal sections of the scene from behind.  The final photographic print then captures the created and actual landscape.

A soundscape will accompany the exhibition along with audio interviews with the Traditional Owners.

’Undercurrent is the first exhibition from the Koorie Heritage Trust’s residency program designed to foster Koorie art, language and culture.  We acknowledge and are grateful for the support of the Federal Department of Communications and the Arts’ Indigenous Languages and Arts Program which supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to revive and maintain languages, and to develop and present art,’’ says Tom Mosby, CEO, Koorie Heritage Trust.

Peta Clancy is a descendent of the Bangerang nation from the Murray Goulburn area, South Eastern Australia.

Clancy was awarded the 2018 Fostering Koorie Art and Culture Koorie Heritage Trust Residency funded by the Australian Government’s Indigenous Languages and Arts Program. Clancy has exhibited extensively across Australia and internationally.

She completed a practice-based PhD at Monash University, Melbourne where she is a Senior lecturer at Monash Art, Design & Architecture, Monash University, Melbourne.

Established in 1985, the Koorie Heritage Trust is a bold and innovative not-for-profit arts and cultural organization.  Aboriginal owned and managed, the Koorie Heritage Trust provides opportunities for all people to learn, connect and re-connect with the rich living cultural heritage of Aboriginal Victoria originating from a 60,000-year-old history.

The Koorie Heritage Trust’s residency program and this exhibition has been supported by the Federal Department of Communications and the Arts’ Indigenous Languages and Arts Program.  Undercurrent has also been generously supported by Gandel Philanthropy.

Undercurrent by Peta Clancy, Saturday 9 March until Sunday 28 April 2019, Koorie Heritage, Yarra Building, Federation Square.   Free entry  www.koorieheritagetrust.com.au

Media information:  Magda Petkoff, Purple Media, 0409 436 473,