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Brook Andrew

Iraq Museum, Far From Whole, Reopens Six Years After Looting 2009
Lithograph with chine colle on Zerkall paper
Monash University Collection
Donated by Brook Andrew in memory of Alexander Charnock through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2010

Ngiyanhiguyunganbul yaambul winhangarra. Nganhaguliyagu mayiny yaambul yangubi waygiwinya, gabaagu giilang. Dyuridhuray gabaagu giilang ngiilinya, gari murrungayarra winhangabilinyi. Giilangguliyagu yarabang, yaambul.
We all hear the bullshit. For Aboriginal people the bullshit goes around for a long time, it is the white man’s story. The museums (having stationary objects) keep in their possession the white man’s story and are believed to be always speaking the truth. Their story is great, our story is bullshit.

Brook Andrew bundadhaanydyu dyuridhuray ngaabunganha ngayaldurigigu. Ngiyanhi ngayarri ' giilang nginha? wula ngiyanhi winhangarra? wulamugu?'
Artist Brook Andrew searches the museums (having stationary objects) to ask questions. We are asked, 'Whose story is this? Whose voice do we hear? Whose voice is missing?'

Iraq Museum, Far from Whole, Reopens Six Years after Looting gilguumadhi ngayarra. Wibiyanha gabaabu garibu nhila ngayarra. Ngiyanhigin.guna dyurigalang mangi nhila ngayarra.
Iraq Museum, Far from Whole, Reopens Six Years after Looting asks about the house of the white man. It asks about colonisation (staying white men) and truth. It asks about our many stolen objects.

Maradhalbu giyirabu nganhimarra, ngadhu yandhul winhangadurinya. Nganhaguliyawal bawamarra mayinydyi yaambulyarra, yanduyanhi barrabirra. Guwiinyguliya ngawaaldhuray.
In mix of old and new, I think about the now. Those communicating the news still speak bullshit about Aboriginal people, even if we strike against them. They have the power.

Brook Andrew bundadhaanydyu ngiyanhigingu ngambaa ngindi. Walanbangan ngayala. ' giilang nginha? wula ngiyanhi winhangarra? wulamugu?'
Artist Brook Andrew wants us to be inquisitive. Ask the authority. 'Whose story is this? Whose voice do we hear? Whose voice is missing?'

– Wiradjuri language translation, Yaaran (Aaron) Ellis

Gari Yala – Speak The Truth

Fake news is currently a much discussed topic, but for First Nations people fake news has been around for a long time—only it's been called history. This (fake news) has been historically created, preserved as well as disseminated by museums, archives, academia and media, institutions often thought to be unbiased and keepers of truth. The stories that enter these spaces become authoritative sources and because of this, history told outside of these institutions, especially narratives that contradict the dominant ones being told by museums and archives are seldom considered legitimate or credible.

This theme has been explored throughout the career of interdisciplinary artist Brook Andrew who often engages with archival material and cultural objects in museums to reinterpret the dominant colonial narratives and offer alternative perspectives. Andrew asks the audience critically engage the history (fake news) and ask whose stories, whose voices are invisible, whose are favoured.

His work Iraq Museum, Far from Whole, Reopens Six Years after Looting, which superimposes a headline from the New York Times (another supposed arbiter of truth) onto a British colonial home-décor image, continues this questioning. The headline chosen is one from a 2009 article about the Iraq Museum in Baghdad reopening after the looting of approximately 15,000 objects, some of which are more than 7,000 years old, that occurred during the United States–led invasion of Iraq in 2003. This highlights the impact that invasion, colonisation and violence has on the truth, as well as the continued pillaging of Indigenous material culture by the West.

Additionally, the mixing of an old image with a contemporary headline is a reminder that distorted colonial narratives and the lack of plurality in mainstream storytelling are not issues of the past. Many colonial institutions, particularly the media, are still constructing biased narratives about First Nations people and other colonised people that are considered fact even if they are highly contested. This unethical practice is able to continue due to the power of these institutions.

Iraq Museum, Far from Whole, Reopens Six Years after Looting and other Brook Andrew works do not want to have the audience completely dismiss these institutions—not to assume every story they convey is entirely biased and not engage with them in the future, but to have audiences be more critical. Question what authority means and who gave it. Question whose voices are privileged and is there a lack of historically marginalised voices.

Ngangu gari (whose truth)? Ngangu giilang (whose story)?

– Nathan 'Mudyi' Sentance

Yaaran (Aaron) Ellis is a Wiradjuri man, born in Albury, NSW, and raised on the NSW Central Coast. In 2005 he commenced his teaching career as a Visual Arts teacher in Griffith, NSW, before successfully obtaining the position of Head Teacher Welfare at Wee Waa, NSW, five years later. In 2012, with the support of local Elders, Yaaran implemented the Gamilaraay language program at Wee Waa High School. In 2017 he returned to Wiradjuri Country, as custodian of the Wiradjuri language program at Young High School.

Nathan 'Mudyi' Sentance is a Wiradjuri man who grew up on Darkinjung Country, NSW. Nathan works to ensure that First Nations stories being told in cultural and memory institutions, such as galleries, libraries, archives and museums are being told and controlled by First Nations people.


This project has been assisted by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.