Explosive art

AN Aboriginal art graduate has blasted his painting apart with a shotgun in a swipe at the colonial mentality in the contemporary art world.

Bradley Kickett stabbed and chopped his canvas with a knife before shooting it with multiple calibre rifles and shotgun shells, as part of his installation Boundary Road.

“I used the tools that were used to enforce colonisation to destroy my cultural art practice,” he says.

Kickett graduated with a degree in Fine Art from Curtin University and is one of the many promising WA graduates displaying at the PICA exhibition Hatched, but he says the exhibition circuit is a closed shop and art education is “ethnocentric”.

“I don’t think anything is changing in Perth,” he says.

“The contemporary art world will only show artists with degrees. 

“There is an under representation of First Nation artists in the contemporary arts. 

“The education system tries to change you into a Western European artist. And teaches nothing about aboriginal art at all. 

“To do an art degree you need to go through an ethnocentric system. 

“A system built on colonialism which is designed to destroy Aboriginal culture and identity. 

“The system needs to change to recognise and teach the fundamentals of Australia’s First Nations cultural arts. Instead of ignoring that it even exists.”

Bradley Kickett (above) applies the finishing touches to Boundary Road (top right) Photo by Bo Wong

A Nyoongar artist descended from the Kickett clan in York, Bradley is a painter, but also does installations and animation.

Boundary Road includes replicas of the text posters that were put up around around Perth before 1967, when the movement of local Aboriginal people into the city was limited and controlled. 

A Certificate of Exemption was required to be able to live in the city on a road specifically set aside for Aboriginal people, often called Boundary Road.

Another highlight of Hatched is UWA graduate Harrison Riekie’s Hidden Vista, which includes photos of his giant 50×50 metre QR code, created in a block in urban WA.

Armed with just a household rake and a 2m measuring rope, Riekie created a mega QR code he generated from an image of a landscape in the northwest of WA.

“Initially, I didn’t have permission to use the space, but I explained that it was an impermanent form of mark-making when confronted,” Riekie says.

“I received the all-clear as long as I ended up handing over some of the aerial documentation.”

Riekie works mostly within the landscape, subtly manipulating the soil to question the value of current communication systems and the methods of distributed information.

“I think digital forms of communication are destabilising the relationship between ourselves, space and time,” he says. “It is undoubtedly a great way to create global connections, and intrinsically, speed means progress. 

“However, with this newfound instantaneity, there is a constant emphasis on real-time and live feeds, where everything exists within a 24-hour window. 

“Therefore I think, as a society, we are drawing upon an inexhaustible stock of information in the present, which is then being disseminated and consumed within an ar-rhythmic new cycle.”

Hatched: National Graduate Show, now in its 30th year, is at PICA in Northbridge until July 11.

By STEPHEN POLLOCK

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