Cover image of the review
Gordon Hookey, hoogah boogah, c.2005. Card and paint stencil, 76 x 62 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Brisbane. Photo: Carl Warner. © Gordon Allan Hookey / Copyright Agency, 2022.

Gordon Hookey: A Murriality at UNSW Galleries

6 Aug 2022
UNSW Galleries 30 Jul - 2 Oct 2022

First, it’s important to place myself in relation to Wanyi artist Gordon Hookey’s first survey show, A Murriality, currently on view at UNSW Galleries. I am writing from the unceded lands of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, who have practiced their sovereignty and law on this land, commonly known as Sydney, since the first sunrise. I acknowledge their endless and continuous care for the Country I was born on and call home and, in doing so, pay my respects to the Gadigal people, their ancestors in their struggles through frontier wars, and their Elders present and future. It is upon their lands that we undertake our work and lives; stolen lands for which a treaty or sovereign agreement has never been negotiated.

Upon entering Hookey’s A Murriality, which spans thirty years of the artist’s practice, you are met with the artist’s perpetual call to “never ever forget!” whose land you’re standing on. Installed alongside a traffic sign ordering the audience to stop and reflect, this form of acknowledgment acts as a reminder of where you are. Comments similar to these are routinely expressed within our institutions and at public events. Offerings of “Welcome to Country” from the First Peoples on the places we work, live and meet are commonplace, and important protocols that recognise time-honoured traditions connected to these places. Often, within the University, this welcome is taken as an empty custom and an acknowledgement, often rushed, like the one I have given, as an equally performative form of political correctness. But what is offered in the Welcome to Country and reaffirmed in our acknowledgements is an opportunity to embark in a sovereign relationship on sovereign land.

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