Sydney-based artist Daniel Boyd has often worked with archives and museum collections as source material to create his vision of decolonisation. In a career just short of two decades, many of his projects have used the idea of darkness as a form of Indigenous resistance to counter the power of Enlightenment ideas and western civilisation.
Over a period of months, Boyd researched the museum’s various collections, eventually selecting a group of 19th century plaster casts from the Macleay Collection of ethnography and the Nicholson Collection of antiquities, including a model of the Athenian Acropolis.
For this new commission entitled Pediment/Impediment, the artist has veiled the entire Penelope Gallery in pinpoints of light. In the mottled half-light, a number of classical plaster casts can be made out amid mirrored pools of light, forming a disturbing and eerie space. In this installation, the transplanted second-hand versions of western civilisations are recast, inviting other ways of seeing our past and future.
I actually used the Endeavour voyage as a starting point. The landscape of Cooktown – where they stopped to repair the ship after they’d hit a reef – was a way to speak about other things too … a way of exploring my great-great grandmother’s connection to that area and her relationship with my great-great grandfather from Vanuatu, Samuel Pentecost.
Daniel Boyd was born in Cairns, Queensland, in 1982, he is of the Kudjila/Gangalu peoples, from Clermont South to the Dawson River region of mid Queensland.
The exhibition runs until June 2021.
Featured image (top of page): Daniel Boyd, installation using a model of the Acropolis at Athens (NM2008.4), 2020.