Tremendously very very very beautiful

Acrylic on paper, gilt frame, 78cm x 68cm, video duration 00:14:49.
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Brad Darkson’s new multi-media work Tremendously very very very beautiful (2018) emphasises the non-prescription of the Aboriginal experience through a critique of the expectation “to create work that is identifiably Aboriginal”. With the intention to address the preconceptions of Aboriginal Art that have infiltrated Australian culture, Tremendously very very very beautiful presents an educational video that opens with the words, “Today we gone learn How to draw and paint ABORIGINAL ART”. The video is a step-by-step guide for how to create ‘Australian Folk Art’ - an ‘Aboriginal’ dot painting. In re-presenting this misleading ‘educational’ content from an online arts education company based overseas Darkson encourages a reflection on how Aboriginal art and culture is generalised and interpreted, both nationally and internationally. The video’s accompanying painting, ornately framed and hanging adjacent, leaves the work open to multiple questions as the viewer attempts to determine whether or not the art is suggestive of Darkson’s cultural background or simply a cultural appropriation. Utilising both irony and humour, Darkson casts a spotlight on how popularised Aboriginal motifs like dot painting do not reflect his own cultural affiliation, and in doing so, highlights how diverse and complex the experience of Aboriginality is – engaging the viewer with a phenomenon they may unwittingly be participants in. - Jessica Clark, curator

 

Artist Statement

Tremendously very very very beautiful

2018

 

I’m no stranger to stumbling across weird shit on YouTube, but every now and again something pops up that makes you really stop and think WTF. WTAF. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture is not confined to a single motif or medium. No shit! What do you expect? We don’t all have access to ochre pigment, sacred stories and cultural permission to use them, because (stop the press) Australia is a fucking massive country. It’s about as big as the US of A. There’s about the same distance between Paris and Baghdad as there is between Hobart and Darwin. In other words, there is geographically and culturally a spectrum equivalent to that ranging from France to Switzerland to Italy to Croatia to Greece to Bulgaria to Serbia to Turkey to Syria to Iraq. And that’s just to name a few of the countries, without beginning to hone in on the plethora of cultural differences between the many various regions within those countries. Yet somehow we (we = ‘Straya) have managed to pigeonhole hundreds of Aboriginal, Tiwi and Torres Strait Islander nations into less than a handful of cultural stereotypes. So what about contemporary First Nations Australian culture? Are you still reading? Most Australians and the majority of our international neighbours currently think that to be ‘authentically Aboriginal’ in Australia we have to meet impossible expectations. ie I would need to get a thousand spray tans and start painting images of native animals with dots on some bark, or something along those lines. Well, now thanks to the wonders of the Internet, and our earnest friend located in India, I can finally succeed at what was once seemingly impossible! - to make some true blue Australian Aboriginal art. 

 

 

 

Tada- Dada Art Club – video description excerpt

 

Aboriginal art is art made by indigenous Australian people. It includes work made in many different ways including painting on leaves, wood carving, rock carving, sculpting, ceremonial clothing and sand painting. Aboriginal art is closely linked to religious ceremonies or rituals. It is an important part of the world's oldest continuous cultural tradition[1], based on totems and the Dreaming. All the designs, painted or drawn, have a story in front of rocks.

 

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