Archie traced his family tree back 65,000 years. It won him the world’s oldest art prize

Samantha Parker By Samantha Parker Jun9,2024
Tracing his Aboriginal relations back 65,000 years, Indigenous artist Archie Moore has drawn on his “connection to place” in his winning entry at a major European art exhibition.
Moore designed the Australian pavilion, called “kith and kin” at the Venice Biennale and took out the Golden Lion award for best national contribution.

He is the first Australian to take the gong.

His work is written in chalk on the pavilion’s dark walls and ceiling and took months to complete.
In an interview before his win, Moore said the project’s name took inspiration from the old English definition of the word kith.
“(It means) countrymen, or one’s own land, which I saw as an Indigenous understanding of connection to place,” he said.
Both Ancestry.com and state archives were used to research Moore’s own history as part of the work.
More than 500 documents, mostly coroner’s reports about Aboriginal deaths in custody, made up a floating installation in the work.

This was above a pool of water which Moore said reflects his own family tree and pays homage to similar installations often found at shrines and memorials.

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Moore’s installation traces back his family tree. Source: Supplied / Archie Moore / kith and kin 2024 / Australia Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2024 / Photographer Andrea Rossetti / © the artist / Images courtesy of the artist and The Commercial

Moore said the white chalk used to etch much of work was a way to “reference the school curriculum”.

“When I went to school there was nothing mentioned about Indigenous history, it was all about the colonial project, agriculture, those kind of things and nothing about my own Indigenous history,” he said.
Federal Arts Minister Tony Burke said Moore’s work showed the power of Australian art and storytelling “going right back to the first sunrise”.

“Australian stories help us to understand ourselves, know more about each other, and let the world get to know us. That’s exactly what this artwork does,” Mr Burke said.

In a post to social media, the Prime Minister also congratulated Moore, acknowledging that Australia has participated in the Biennale since 1954 and this is the first win.

“What an incredible tribute to the oldest living culture in the world, at the oldest art exhibition in the world,” he said.

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A close-up photograph of the family tree Archie constructed for the prize. Source: Supplied / Archie Moore / kith and kin 2024 / Australia Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2024 / Photographer Andrea Rossetti / © the artist / Images courtesy of the artist and The Commercial

This year’s Biennale focuses on the experience of foreignness and the themes of migration and exile.

Under the title “Foreigners Everywhere,” being and feeling foreign will play an important role, the organisers said.
Curator Adriano Pedrosa invited 330 artists from various countries with numerous works.
In addition, more than 80 countries are taking part with their own national contributions.
An international art audience is expected in the Giardini, the Arsenale and other venues in the historic northern Italian city for the 60th edition of the exhibition which runs until November 24.

Alongside the documenta in the German city of Kassel, the art biennial is considered the most important presentation of contemporary art and attracts artists and guests from around the world.

Samantha Parker

By Samantha Parker

Samantha is a seasoned journalist with a passion for uncovering the truth behind the headlines. With years of experience in investigative reporting, she has covered a wide range of topics including politics, crime, and entertainment. Her in-depth analysis and commitment to factual accuracy make her a respected voice in the field of journalism.

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2 thoughts on “Archie traced his family tree back 65,000 years. It won him the world’s oldest art prize”
  1. Archie Moore’s exploration of his family history and connection to place through his art is truly inspiring. It’s wonderful to see Indigenous artists like him receiving recognition on a global stage. His work is a beautiful ode to his roots and heritage.

  2. Archie Moore’s exceptional talent in tracing his family lineage back 65,000 years truly showcases his profound connection to his Indigenous ancestry. The intricate details of his work, from the chalk etchings to the floating installation of historical documents, offer a powerful narrative of his heritage.

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