The Colours of Federation (WHOSLAUGHINGJACKASS)

acrylic paint on wall, acrylic paint on poplar plywood, vitrines with archival material

Artspace, Sydney

November - December 2017

This project was presented at Artspace, Sydney as part of the NSW Emerging Visual Artist Fellowship 2017.

Dacelo novaeguineae (Laughing Kookaburra) was introduced into Tasmania and WA between 1881-1906 by Acclimatisation Societies. Their nineteenth century name was Laughing Jackass. These same societies previously introduced deer, fox, trout and house sparrows. I would argue a shift occurred in Australia when mobilising non-human species; from a colonial gesture to a nationalistic one. The Colours of Federation (WHOSLAUGHINGJACKASS) speculates on the history of nationalism as emblemised through the transportation of kookaburras. The true colours of the Australian federation may be the tertiary palette of the ‘laughing jackass’ instead of the union jack or the green and gold of the wattle. The work presents an alternate narrative of nation-building, albeit proving this was and always will be a construct. Australia remains imagined through series of forced fictions.

Photography: Zan Wimberley