Object Vase

Michael Cook

In his work Object (Vase) (2015), Aboriginal figures assume the roles of Victorian nobility. In their plush, moneyed surrounds they, literally, impose control over their human chattels. The role reversal sees Indigenous subjects interacting with people as props; the once elite, recast as objects. Michael Cook is one of Australia’s most exciting and upcoming Indigenous artists.

Shot on location at Labassa, a 19th century National Trust property in Melbourne, Cook has recreated fanciful dinner party scenes where each image leads to the next and which forms a narrative turning divisions (class, gender and colour) on their head.

This photograph is part of a larger series has recently been on show at the 56th Venice Biennale. Colonial narratives are re-imagined and reclaimed in Cook’s images in order to muddle and reverse racial and social roles.

Cook was twice named Winner of the Deadly Awards – Visual Artist of the Year (2008 & 2011) and he has been a selected finalist in the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards (2012) and the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award (2011, 2012 and 2013).

His work is represented in numerous public and private collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of Western Australia and Parliament House, Canberra.