When Silence Falls provides a voice for those who have been silenced. Encompassing painting, video and sculpture, the collection-based exhibition presents the work of contemporary Aboriginal artists alongside contemporary international artists. It considers the violence and loss of often-unacknowledged historical events––cultural displacement, political oppression, ethnic cleansing and massacres.
Cara Pinchbeck, curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and When Silence Falls curator, explained: “These powerful works offer a space for contemplation that is more sensual and emotive than the history writing and news imagery to which we can become desensitised. They look to the shared nature of humanity, our transient existence and the inescapable sadness of suffering.”
Featuring a new major acquisition by Australian Indigenous artist Judy Watson, as well as significant loans from Naomi Milgrom and Gene and Brian Sherman, the collection also features Ben Quilty’s ‘Fairy Bower Rorschach’, 2012 [pictured]. A damaged and mirrored oil painting of a waterfall at Bundanoon in the Southern Highlands of NSW, ‘Fairy Bower Rorschach’ explores a site of exquisite natural beauty with a dark oral history as the site of a massacre of Aboriginal people in the early 19th Century.
This exhibition speaks strongly of conflict, but does not look to blame.
“The artists in this exhibition share a faith that art should play its part in excavating and reimagining the past, however troubling the subject matter,” said Art Gallery of NSW director Michael Brand.
When Silence Falls is part of a new series of contemporary collection projects that seek to make the Gallery of NSW more fresh and accessible. (AM)
Until May 1. Open daily, 10am–5pm, Weds until 10pm (except Christmas Day and Good Friday). Art Gallery of NSW, Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney. Free (exhibition catalogue $16.95). Info: artgallery.nsw.gov.au