Indigenous Tasmanian artist Julie Gough, whose artwork explores the absence of memorials to the histories of genocide and massacre that occurred on her native land in Tasmania, will explore this topic in Charlottesville when she visits for a residency in October. An installation of her artwork titled Hunting Ground is currently on view at the Kluge-Ruhe Collection.
For the last several years, Charlottesville has been the national hotbed of debate about the relevance of memorials to the past and their role in the future of our community. Julie Gough, a leading Indigenous Australian artist whose work is in major public and private collections in Australia, has been raising awareness about this issue in Tasmania using prints and video installation works.
For Hunting Ground, Gough did extensive research into how Tasmania went from plentiful hunting grounds for Indigenous people to a land where those same people were hunted down when it was invaded and colonized by the British in the 19th century. After researching the massacres that took place, only some of which are known and documented, Gough created her own memorials to those dark events and posted them where they occurred, re-inscribing the land with an almost forgotten history.
While these events happened more than a hundred years ago in Tasmania, Gough is interested in how, if and why they are remembered, and from whose perspective. As Charlottesville begins to heal from the recent domestic terrorist attack by white nationalists and the ongoing controversy around Confederate statues, this exhibition is particularly relevant to an American audience. In addition to providing an international parallel to recent events, the exhibition and Gough’s residency will provide a perspective from many years following such tragic histories: What purpose do memorials serve? How do we process trauma and move into the future without forgetting? How is memory preserved at the physical sites where events occurred? Who is telling the story and what motivations do they have?
Gough looks at the landscape with an archaeological lens, where histories layer on top of one another, hiding the layers beneath. She is also interested in how histories of violence and oppression toward Native American people in Charlottesville and surrounding areas have been covered by the legacies of slavery, and what can be done to uncover them.
Julie Gough will visit Charlottesville for an artist residency October 26 – November 20. She will give a gallery talk of Hunting Ground on Saturday, November 4 at 10:30 am and present her work in an artist talk on Thursday, November 16 at 5:30 pm, followed by a reception from 6:30 – 8:00 pm. She will guest lecture to various courses at UVA.