Indigenous Artist Archie Moore Wins Golden Lion at Venice Biennale

Indigenous Artist Archie Moore Wins Golden Lion at Venice Biennale

Indigenous artist Archie Moore has made history by becoming the first Australian to win the prestigious Golden Lion award for best national contribution at the Venice Biennale. Moore’s winning entry, titled “kith and kin,” reflects his deep connection to his Aboriginal heritage and his exploration of themes such as ancestry, identity, and connection to place. Indigenous Artist Archie Moore Wins Golden Lion at Venice Biennale

Moore’s artwork, showcased in the Australian pavilion, is a striking display of chalk etchings on the pavilion’s dark walls and ceiling. Inspired by his Aboriginal heritage and his family’s history, Moore spent months meticulously crafting the intricate designs that adorn the space.

The title of the project, “kith and kin,” draws from the old English definition of the word “kith,” which refers to countrymen or one’s own land. For Moore, it represents an Indigenous understanding of connection to place and ancestry.

In his research for the project, Moore delved into his own family history, tracing his Aboriginal relations back an astonishing 65,000 years. He utilized resources such as and state archives to uncover his heritage, incorporating over 500 documents into his artwork. These documents, mostly coroner’s reports about Aboriginal deaths in custody, form a floating installation above a pool of water, symbolizing Moore’s family tree and paying homage to Indigenous shrines and memorials.

The use of white chalk in Moore’s artwork serves as a poignant reference to his experiences in the school curriculum, which often neglected Indigenous history. “When I went to school, there was nothing mentioned about Indigenous history,” Moore explained. “It was all about the colonial project, agriculture, those kinds of things, and nothing about my own Indigenous history.”

Federal Arts Minister Tony Burke praised Moore’s work for its powerful storytelling and its ability to showcase Australian art on the world stage. “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,” Burke said.

The Venice Biennale, with this year’s theme “Foreigners Everywhere,” explores the experience of foreignness, migration, and exile. Moore’s artwork, along with contributions from over 80 countries, invites viewers to contemplate themes of identity and belonging in an increasingly globalized world.

As the 60th edition of the exhibition continues until November 24, an international art audience is expected to visit the historic city of Venice, celebrating contemporary art and cultural exchange from around the world. Moore’s groundbreaking achievement at the Venice Biennale not only highlights the richness of Indigenous art and culture but also amplifies the importance of storytelling in understanding and appreciating diverse perspectives.

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