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Kith and kin inspire Indigenous artist Archie Moore to Golden Lion award at Venice Biennale

Archie Moore speaks at the opening of 'kith and kin'

Source: Instagram/Ausatvenice

Tracing his Aboriginal relations back 65,000 years, Indigenous artist Archie Moore has drawn on his “connection to place” in his winning entry at a major European art exhibition.

Moore designed the Australian pavilion, called kith and kin at the Venice Biennale and took out the Golden Lion award for best national contribution.

He is the first Australian to take the gong.

His work is written in chalk on the pavilion’s dark walls and ceiling and took months to complete.

In an interview before his win, Moore said the project’s name took inspiration from the old English definition of the word kith.

“[It means] countrymen, or one’s own land, which I saw as an Indigenous understanding of connection to place,” he said.

Ancestry.com and state archives were used to research Moore’s history as part of the work.

More than 500 documents, mostly coroner’s reports about Aboriginal deaths in custody, made up a floating installation in the work.

This was above a pool of water that Moore said reflects his own family tree and pays homage to similar installations often found at shrines and memorials.

Archie Moore poses alongside his exhibition work kith and kin at the Venice Biennale.

Moore said the white chalk used to etch much of work was a way to “reference the school curriculum”.

“When I went to school there was nothing mentioned about Indigenous history, it was all about the colonial project, agriculture, those kind of things and nothing about my own Indigenous history,” he said.

Arts Minister Tony Burke said Moore’s work showed the power of Australian art and storytelling “going right back to the first sunrise”.

“Australian stories help us to understand ourselves, know more about each other, and let the world get to know us. That’s exactly what this artwork does,” Burke said.

This year’s Biennale focuses on the experience of foreignness and the themes of migration and exile.

Under the title Foreigners Everywhere, being and feeling foreign would play an important role, the organisers said.

Curator Adriano Pedrosa invited 330 artists from various countries with numerous works.

Kith and kin has won big at the Venice Biennale.

In addition, more than 80 countries have their own national contributions.

An international art audience is expected in the Giardini, the Arsenale and other venues in the historic northern Italian city for the 60th edition of the exhibition which runs until November 24.

Alongside the documenta in the German city of Kassel, the art biennial is considered the most important presentation of contemporary art and attracts artists and guests from around the world.

-AAP
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