Sat. May 18th, 2024

This Kamilaroi/Bigambul artist has hand-drawn a family tree of 2,400 generations

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell May7,2024
In his latest work, artist Archie Moore has hand-drawn a genealogical chart that traces his lineage back more than 2,400 generations.
The exhibition kith and kin, draws on Moore’s Kamilaroi, Bigambul, British and Scottish heritage and will premiere at the Australian pavilion as part of international art’s most prestigious exhibition, the Venice Biennale.

The 60th annual outing of the exhibition features 331 artists from around the world.

Known for his use of installations, Moore said it was a way of immersing audiences in an experience of his or his people.
“I’m kind of interested in that impossibility of knowing or understanding another, [even] if we have the shared experience,” he told The Guardian.

“So [I use immersive installations] as a way to say, ‘Will Indigenous and non-Indigenous people know and understand each other?’”

‘Dedicated to every living thing’

Moore is only the second First Nations artist to have a solo presentation in the 25-year history of the Australian pavilion, following Tracey Moffat in 2017.
The stunning display, drawn in white chalk, inundates the Australian Pavilion’s five-metre-high black walls. Spanning 60 metres, it is intended to resemble a ‘celestial map’ – the ancestors’ final resting place.

kith and kin is a memorial dedicated to every living thing that has ever lived. It is a space for quiet reflection on the past, the present and the future,” Moore said.

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Part of Moore’s artwork at Venice Biennale 2024. Source: Supplied / Andrea Rossetti

The words and names adorning the black walls of the pavilion also serve as a visual representation and reminder of the decline of Indigenous languages as a result of colonisation.

This shift can be seen through the introduction of racial slurs and categorisation.
At the centre of the pavilion is a reflective pool, intended as a memorial to the injustices faced by First Nations people.
Suspended above it are 500 document stacks – the findings of coronial inquests on the deaths of Indigenous people in police custody.

Moore also features his family’s personal historic documents such as a court conviction from when his great uncle accidentally killed his father during a fight over their paltry wages; and reports by the Protector of Aboriginals denying Moore’s grandparents access to rights that non-Indigenous citizens had – such as freedom of movement.

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The reports from hundreds of coronial inquests into the deaths of First Nations people in police custody. Credit: Andrea Rossetti

Curator of the exhibition Ellie Buttrose said the artwork was a declaration of the sovereignty of the artist and his people.

“The simultaneity of past, present and future underpins the First Nations … understanding of time,” said Buttrose.
“By placing 65,000-plus years of family on a single continuum, kith and kin immerses audiences in the co-presence of the ancestors and co-existence of time — by doing so Archie generously enfolds each of us into the ‘everywhen’.”

The central exhibition at the Venice Biennale this year is “Foreigners Everywhere” and Indigenous artists are the heart of it.

As Brazilian curator, Adriano Pedrosa, artistic director of this year’s Biennale says, the Indigenous artist is “frequently treated as a foreigner in his or her own land.”
Alongside Moore, the work of Wadawurrung artist Marlene Gilson and Yolŋu artist Naminapu Maymuru-White also feature, as well as that of Māori, Native American, Brazilian, Inuk and Timorese artists.
In anticipation of the event, Moore shared what he hoped audiences would gain from the exhibition.
“[I hope viewers come away with] more of an understanding of Indigenous Australians,” he said.
“Because I’m not sure how much they know about Indigenous Australia, or the history, or what kind of circumstances we’re living in.”

The kith and kin exhibition is on display from 20 April – 24 November. Queensland Art Gallery’s Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) plans to present kith and kin as part of its 2025-26 program.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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One thought on “This Kamilaroi/Bigambul artist has hand-drawn a family tree of 2,400 generations”
  1. As an art enthusiast, I find Archie Moore’s genealogical chart truly fascinating. It’s amazing how he has depicted his heritage spanning over 2,400 generations in such a profound manner. The immersive installations he creates to bridge the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are both thought-provoking and beautiful. Looking forward to experiencing his work at the Venice Biennale!

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