Cover image of the review


3 Jun 2017
Margaret Lawrence Gallery 19 May - 10 Jun 2017

This week marks fifty years since the 1967 referendum and last week at Uluru a meeting of Indigenous leaders met to discuss a united strategy on constitutional recognition. Fifty years is a long time in anyone’s book, and with little material progress toward reconciliation, recognition, and ‘bridging the gap’, there is a widespread consensus that a symbolic mention is not enough to decolonise Australia’s founding document. The ‘Uluru Statement from the Heart’, released last week by the Referendum Council, called for meaningful constitutional reform to enable First Australians to “take a rightful place in (their) own country.” The ‘Statement’ called for First Nations people to be heard through the governing idea of Makarrata, a Yolngu concept for a coming together and healing after a struggle.

At least until Makarrata is brought about, the struggle continues. Restless, currently showing at the VCA Margaret Lawrence Gallery, presents a dense and uncomfortable examination of the struggle of symbols dealing with the naturalisation of the modern Australian state. These symbols are often both literal objects as well as potent metaphors, pointing to a sense of duality within symbolic activity. In fact, like the Uluru Statement last week, there is a real tension in this show between the necessity of symbolic engagement with the past and the urgent need to act toward the future and the present.

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