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Primavera 2018 reviewed by Andy Butler in The Monthly

Alongside this work is Hayley Millar-Baker’s A Series of Unwarranted Events(2018). A Gunditmjara artist originally trained as a painter, Millar-Baker brings a painterly sense of composition to a digital assemblage and photographic practice. From thousands of images, Millar-Baker creates proto-graphic works that tell stories of her ancestral country around Portland, Victoria. In one image, a whale lies beached on the sand in front of a composition of clouds reminiscent of a 19th-century European landscape painting – the work is a reference to a massacre of Gunditmjara people by European whalers in 1833. In another, an assemblage of basalt stone walls is turned into a mountain, with a church on top – it speaks to the stories of the Lake Condah Mission Station of the late 1800s. Millar-Baker uses her practice as a poetic way to highlight stories that would otherwise have faded from colonial records.

The works at Primavera 2018 deeply engage with a contemporary moment where we are reckoning with a history and a present built on power and inequality, that defines our understanding of each other and how we see ourselves. In bringing the question “Why is identity important today?” to the works of these artists, it becomes clear that identity and power have been issues bubbling under the surface for some time, insofar as there are structures within our society that consistently determine the limits of how those outside of a dominant culture move through the world. Taken together, the practices of the Primavera 2018 artists ask the audience to consider the fractured pasts that are coming to bear on our present, and raise complex questions about the dominant political and cultural constructions of who we are.

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