The Blaktism

The Blaktism, a new video work and a high-energy performance and ritual that sees a young female “Fair-Skinned Aborigine” undertake a sacred ceremony in which she receives the rite of authenticity validated by cultural authorities ever present in the Australian cultural landscape.
The sacred ceremony itself results in a satirical cultural assimilation dance party whereby all Australians are liberated, celebrated equally and transgressively renewed through physical and gestural adjustments.

The Blaktism seeks to challenge audience members with subterranean racism within popular culture. It shows the absurd nature of racial classification and disdain for cultural self-determination in 21st century Australia. Inspired by the artist's recent experience in obtaining her ‘Certificate of Aboriginality’; this pop video ultimately interrogates notions of identity, power and Australian social history.

from Siân Darling on Vimeo.

You can hear more about The Blaktism here AWAYE! with Daniel Browning from Radio National
Or read more in The Age with Kylie Northover
Metro Arts exhibition catalogue essay can be found HERE, written by Professor Steve Larkin from Charles Darwin University

Production Shots from The Blaktism 
Images courtesy of Hannah Cooper Mccoy

The Tide is High, Solo Exhibition at Fehily Contemporary Oct, 2013

The Tide is High is a new body of work by Megan Cope that continues her practice of reclaiming Australia’s geographical places.

In particular, the exhibition looks into the connection between land and resources and the conflict that this connection causes. Victoria’s gold rush towns – Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong – are represented here in vintage military maps. Cope decolonizes these towns by including the names of the Aboriginal groups and languages to which these areas originally belonged and still belong today; a superimposed 5-metre sea level rise renders the colonial grip on the places even more tenuous.  

The Tide is High also features a collection of protest placards that reference the current anxieties about asylum seekers. White Australia’s fear of losing its “jobs, land and wealth” to refugees, Cope suggests, is symptomatic of the cultural amnesia that fails to consider the Aboriginal people whose jobs, land and wealth were already sacrificed.


Images: Courtesy of Fehily Contemporary and the artist

Fluid Terrain - My Country, I still call Australia Home Exhibition. June 2013

The first of June saw the opening of the largest collection of Indigenous art to be shown at GoMA in Brisbane. This Exhibition is curated by Bruce McLean.

This site specific work was commissioned by GoMA and is the largest work I've done so far!

Here is a link to GoMA TV and some discussion about the work:

Welcome to Country discussion | June 1 2013
Hetti Perkins hosts Michael Cook, Fiona Foley and myself:
QAGOMA Welcome to Country

You can also listen in to Daniel Browning's program Awaye! on ABC's Radio National here:
AWAYE! My Country Exhibition

A Journal of the Plague Year. Fear, ghosts, rebels. SARS, Leslie and the Hong Kong Story.

In May I traveled to Hong Kong to be a part of this exhibition at Parasite Gallery.
Many Thanks to Inti, Cosmin, Trevour & Qinyi at Parasite for putting together a fantastic and important show and looking after us.

Here is a link to the gallery: PARA SITE

Para Site proudly presents A Journal of the Plague Year. Fear, ghosts, rebels. SARS, Leslie and the Hong Kong story - curated by Cosmin Costinas and Inti Guerrero.

Starting from the events that affected Hong Kong in the spring of 2003, the exhibition traces the different narratives, historical backgrounds as well as the implications of these events in relation to the contemporary culture and politics of Hong Kong and the world.
The city has a subjectively internalised history of epidemics and of representations in the colonial era as an infected land that needed to be conquered from nature, disease and oriental habits in order to be made healthy, modern and profitable. These narratives culminated with the identification of the bacillus causing the plague during an epidemic in Hong Kong in 1894, in Para Site's current neighbourhood. This discovery contributed to a dubious association of the disease with Asia and heightened the "yellow peril" scares in Europe and America at the time. In Hong Kong, the fear of infecting agents has always resonated with a fear of other people, quarantine has mirrored exclusion, whilst epidemiological, racial and cultural contamination have shared the same language.
When the city became the epicenter of the most significant airborne epidemic in recent years - the SARS crisis of 2003 - the unparalleled shutdown of the city and the atomisation of society in quarantined segments led to an unexpected shift in the political awareness of the Hong Kong citizenry. Just after the end of the epidemic, record numbers of people turned out to protest against a new internal security law imposed by Beijing, causing its shelving and, more importantly, the emergence of an active political community. After that moment, the image of a de-politicised and soullessly pragmatic commercial hub could not anymore tell the whole story about Hong Kong.

Less gloriously however, the main measure taken to alleviate the economic meltdown caused by SARS, the option for Mainland citizens to visit the territory for the first time on individual visas caused another major shift in the identity of the city, and its relationship to Mainland China. Medicalised vocabularies and imageries reminiscent of epidemics have been used in regard to the growing number of Mainland Chinese in Hong Kong, seen as pathogens corrupting an otherwise healthy social body and as milk formula sucking locusts. Again, an epidemic becomes the backdrop of paranoia and hate, but the fear of the Chinese, of their vast numbers and uncivilized habits, is now harboured by fellow Chinese rather than by the self-content Europeans of the last plague visitation a century ago. This essentialising xenophobia has come to be a defining factor in the relationship between the two sides of the Shenzhen River, and paradoxically has complicated the pro-democracy (and anti-Beijing) discourse and activism, rejuvenated in the wake of the SARS crisis.

These ambivalences in the identity of Hongkongers are reflected in the figure of Leslie Cheung, the hugely iconic figure, actor and singer who committed suicide at the height of the SARS crisis by jumping off the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in Central Hong Kong. His shocking death at the darkest hour of the darkest times in recent memory played its part in the mobilisation of Hongkongers, who turned out in huge numbers for Leslie's funeral, ignoring the health warnings in effect at the time. Gor Gor's ("Big Brother" in Cantonese - as Leslie has been known) life and career have contributed to forging a strong sense of identity for Hong Kong culture, in spite of his queer and often contrarian persona. The versatility of the roles he played reflected (and arguably enhanced) the versatility of the city's identity over the past decades, before and after the handover. And his ghostly presence continues to do so.

The exhibition aims to navigate through these disparate though interconnected narratives and to contribute to a critical discussion about Hong Kong's recent history with the help of works by local and international artists, as well as of pop cultural artifacts and archival documents. It is curated by Cosmin Costinas and Inti Guerrero.

Para Site Art Space is financially supported by Springboard Grant under the Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
The content of this programme does not reflect the views of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Clancestry Festival at Queensland Performing Arts Centre

This was a panel conversation with the topic of Just who is black enough?
Panel: Dr Anita Hiess, Dr Chelsea Bond, Kevin O'Brien and Megan Cope.

Author of Am I Black Enough? Dr Anita Heiss; University of Queensland Senior Lecturer with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit Dr Chelsea Bond; Queensland University of Technology Professor of Design, School of Design, Creative Industries Faculty Kevin O'Brien; and artist Megan Cope explore the deep and complex issues around the process of being deemed 'black enough' through the politics of self determination and ancestry.
The panel was chaired by Rhoda Roberts

Clancestry is a celebration of country. This means many things. "Country" acknowledges the Traditional Owners of this land. As a metaphor it connects us to our homeland and regions with a special character. From a performing arts perspective it is both an art form and a popular performance genre. Clancestry is a festival celebrating the arts and cultural practices of the world's First Nation's Peoples. The festival draws on rich spiritual culture and provides a space to connect with other clan groups across the country and the globe. In presenting performances, workshops, free events and conversations the festival moves beyond transactional contact into deeper relationships between all peoples.

Toponymic Interventions #2 Gold Coast

Here are some shots of another video I've been working on, with the assistance of Adric Watson again. This series of interventions was shot with time-lapse photography and on the Gold Coast.

Kick Start | Next Wave

Whooo hooo! I got selected to participate in Kickstart 2013 to produce work for Next Wave 2014.
There are some really fantastic artists in this years program including 6 blackfellas working in theater, performance and visual arts...

Check it out: NEXT WAVE 2014