QCP is taking the works of twelve Australian photo-media artists to Photo LA (15 – 18 January 2015) and Photo Contemporary (1 – 3 May 2015). This series of focus interviews gives an insight into the selected artists.
How did you first become interested in art and photography?
I’ve been taking pictures since I was 14 when my brother gave me my first camera. My training was in photo processing labs and later, portraits and weddings. In 2008, I embarked on creating two fashion based projects to build my portfolio with the hope of getting representation within the commercial industry. This was a great learning process in teaching myself how to create an image and realise my vision but I soon realised that I wanted to have control of the image from start to finish, which you often don’t have in commercial photography. Art was the answer. It allowed me to explore my interests and discover more about my Indigenous identity. I realised these projects not only help me to understand who I am, they could also change peoples’ perspectives. This is what gives me the inspiration to try and achieve depth within my work, as changing an opinion can carry on through generations.
What work are you showing in LA?
I am showing ‘Vase’, an image from my new series titled ’Object’. The series uses role reversal to focus on historical issues of inequality through race. The works place an object (a nude subject of white appearance) alongside an Indigenous person in a role reversal scenario relevant to the period, reflected through costume and location. The complete series is five images that join to make one image, ‘Vase’ being the centrepiece. The five images create a type of movie layout where the subject (and a dog) walk from frame to frame like a storyline. With this series, as with most of my work, I relate history to where people are in today’s society and ask the viewer to look more deeply before creating an opinion of a situation.
What are your plans for 2015?
2015 will be another busy year. I have just finished ‘Object”, created to exhibit at Palazzo Mora during the Venice Biennale (May – Nov), and will also show with THIS IS NO FANTASY + dianne tanzer gallery in Melbourne in May. I am involved in several group exhibitions both in Australia and overseas including ‘Salt Water Country’ currently showing at the AAMU Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art in Utrecht, and ‘Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation’ at The British Museum, London which is the first major exhibition in the UK presenting a history of Indigenous Australia through objects. My work is also featured in group shows in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. I’m hoping to work on two new series over the coming months, and also have plans to travel to Kakadu in the Northern territory to spend time at an Indigenous arts centre to show the process used in creating my projects to the local artists.
For more information about Michael Cook and the LA program, please visit the new QCP International website and Michael Cook’s website.
Banner image: Michael Cook