Jonathan Jones & Cockatoo Island - Dialogue for the Future

Avant/Garde Diaries
Jan 28, 2013 10:56PM

Looking at big issues in an understated way – this is how one might describe Jonathan Jones’ work and life philosophy. Based in Sydney, the contemporary aboriginal artist works in varied media, including printmaking, drawing, installation, and film; but he is perhaps best known for his site-specific installation pieces. Jones’ art renders the visual languages of his indigenous people utilizing ultra modern materials – animal patterns, weapons, and woodcarvings reinterpreted in fluorescent light forms. For the 18th Biennale of Sydney (2012), Jones explores Sydney Harbor’s largest landmass, Cockatoo Island as a collision point of colonial and indigenous cultures. Frequented by yellow-crested cockatoos, Cockatoo Island's first human visitors were the Eora people, the aboriginal people of Sydney's coastal region. Since 1857, the island has served as a penal colony, naval shipyard, and industrial hub. Today the island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The area’s layers of indigenous, imperial, and industrial history make it a unique stage for contemporary art and a compelling site for the Biennale of Sydney. In his interview withThe Avant/Garde Diaries, Jones introduces us to this intriguing place: “With Cockatoo Island having no major aboriginal sites, I found there was nothing to anchor a work around," he says. "There was this awkward sense of scale, of how to deal with these massively oversized buildings in this industrial site which I had to somehow reinhabit. There are histories of colonization and industrialization, but nothing of native history. All that had been erased. By bringing art to the Island, I’m reimagining that history.”

Directed by Nick Marzano / Director of Photography: Tim Tregoning / Camera Assistant: Julian Tynan / Editorial Lead: Romy Uebel / Production: Laura Brent / Editing: Merrick Van Asselt / Color Correction: Dylan Munro / Music by Bunnystripes.

Avant/Garde Diaries
Get the Artsy app
Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play
Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019