Monument for the flooding of Royal Park, 2010

Frieze of 46 ink jet prints on archival matte paper.

Exh.: Animism, curated by Anselm Franke, also including Agency, Art & Language, Christian W. Braune & Otto Fischer, Marcel Broodthaers, Paul Chan, Tony Conrad, Didier Demorcy, Walt Disney, Lili Dujourie, Jimmie Durham, Eric Duvivier, Harun Farocki, León Ferrari, Christopher Glembotzky, Victor Grippo, Brion Gysin, Luis Jacob, Ken Jacobs, Darius James, Joachim Koester, Zacharias Kunuk, Louise Lawler, Len Lye, Étienne-Jules Marey, Daria Martin, Angela Melitopoulos & Maurizio Lazzarato, Wesley Meuris, Henri Michaux, Santu Mofokeng, Vincent Monnikendam, Otobong Nkanga, Reto Pulfer, Félix-Louis Regnault, Józef Robakowski, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Paul Sharits, Yutaka Sone, Jan Švankmajer, David G. Tretiakoff, Rosemarie Trockel, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, Dziga Vertov, Klaus Weber, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, 15 January - 15 May, at Extra City Kunstahl Antwerpen (where Monument for the flooding of Royal Park was shown) and MUHKA, Antwerp, Belgium.
Monument for the flooding of Royal Park is an elaboration of the artist's book of the same title into the form of a 15 metre frieze. The work describes a proposed monument, which focuses on nardoo, the plant which the 19th-century Australian explorers Burke and Wills furiously consumed during their final days around Cooper’s Creek. The Yantruwanta people had introduced the explorers to the habit of making cakes from nardoo sporocarp, who failed to observe the correct preparation of the seed, mainly due to Burke’s antipathy towards Aboriginal culture and his hostility towards any reliance upon it. Without roasting, the sporocarp contains high levels of thiaminase, which disables human digestion by destroying Thiamine, ultimately resulting in apoptosis, the self-programmed death of cells in the body. Burke and Wills both starved even as they spent most of their final days preparing and consuming copious quantities of nardoo cakes.

Monument for the flooding of Royal Park is a proposition for the scattering of nardoo sporocarp throughout Royal Park, a vast Park in Melbourne's inner north where the explorers' departure point is commemorated by a small cairn. In the event of flooding, these sporocarp become fields of nardoo fern. As the flood waters recede and the plant dries out, they become vast fields of intense red, a carpet which temporarily covers the expanses of the Park. This drying out again disseminates the sporocarp, which can survive for up to 30 years in the ground before their growth is activated again by floodwaters.

In this work, the proposed Monument is described in parallel to a sequence of archival photographs of different Burke and Wills monuments in and around Melbourne (including images of the famous Summers’ monument in its various locations around Melbourne). A short sequence of footage shot in Royal Park on the day of the dramatic 2006 smoke-storms – the only moving image material in the work – is the work’s epilogue.

The work Drawings and correspondence was also exhibited in Animism, at the exhibition's other venue, M HKA. The two works were included in Animsim with the support of Arts Victoria. Both works evolved during a State Library of Victoria Creative Fellowshiop in 2007-2008.

The artist's book Monument for the flooding of Royal Park was published by Schwartz City in 2009.

The artist's book was an elaboration of a video of the same title, which was shown in 2008 as part of the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture.

The frieze form of the work was also shown in Last Ride in a Hot Air Balloon, the 4th Auckland Triennial, in March 2010, along with a collaboration with the composer Andrew Byrne, Music for the launch of an imaginary monument, and a billboard-scaled print of the composited image Nardoo flag-wave. The frieze was first shown in Italian-English bilingual form in the exhibition Still vast reserves at Magazzino di Arte Moderna in Rome in September 2009.


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