Jonathan Jones
untitled (transcriptions of country)

Co-published by Artspace and Formist Editions 
520 Pages
240 × 170 mm
Editor: Genevieve O’Callaghan
Design: Mark Gowing
Texts: Lille Madden, Uncle Charles Madden, Jonathan Jones, Aunty Julie Freeman, Jeanine Leane, Anthony Bourke, Claire G Coleman, Yamane Fayed, Rachel Piercy, Uncle Badger Bates, Crystal Arnold, Erin Vink, Joel Davison, S.J Norman, Keith Vincent Smith, Carol Cooper, Peter Yanada McKenzie, Julie Gough, Jazz Money
ISBN: 978-1-876017-03-3

Based on research undertaken in Australia and France, this exhibition considers the colonial transportation, trade and translation of Australian native plants and animals, as well as Australian Aboriginal portraits, objects and music, and their associated knowledges, by examining the 1800–1803 French expedition under the command of Captain Nicolas Baudin.

The French explorers amassed extraordinary collections. Countless plants and animals, along with the largest known ensemble of Sydney Aboriginal objects, were taken back to France and installed at the Château de Malmaison. But with the demise of Napoléon, the exact fate of the Australian animals is unknown, the significant collections were largely lost or forgotten, and the story remains untold.

Jonathan Jones presents a collection of collaborative elements – a series of embroideries that transcribe the plant specimens collected in Sydney, a set of wreaths and historical portraits, a moving image work, soundscape, and planting installation. These artworks ponder the process of translation and how concepts, practices and stories distort as they move away from their homelands and caretakers. The artist explains: ‘I’m curious about how we come to terms with objects that were collected and are now lost to the   archive; how these objects can morph into new forms of dialogue, become tools of reciprocity and repatriation within the framework of decolonisation.’

As the world’s refugee crisis continues to grow and displacement dominates our contemporary experience, understanding how Indigenous concepts, practices and stories can be translated across cultures is more than ever relevant. The exhibition untitled (transcriptions of country) speaks to the way seeds can flourish in new environments, to how Aboriginal understanding of Country and respectful sharing of knowledge can connect people and communities.

Jonathan Jones was born in 1978 in Sydney, where he lives and works. He belongs to the Wiradyuri and Kamilaroi of southeastern Australia.

Research and exhibition developed by Jonathan Jones with the support of Elders Aunty Julie Freeman and Uncle Charles Madden.


Associated exhibition

Public Program