Australia

Performing Australia

The enigmatic and highly acclaimed work of artist Simryn Gill has been chosen to represent Australia at the Venice Biennale. Gill was born in Singapore and moves between Australia and Malaysia. The choice of Gill to represent Australia , creates an illusion of an inclusive, free and open nation. However, there remains an historical tension in Australia from the legacy of the White Australia Policy (1901—1973) that favored immigration by white people from Britain. This nation building myth with its imagined white community was one that had to defend itself from the ‘threat’ of Asia. In more recent times the perceived threat has been from the arrival of asylum seekers but the rhetoric is much the same—a language of Othering. Over the time of Australia’s participation in the Venice Biennale the majority of artists have been unproblematically and clearly representative of this white vision and firmly located in Australia. Now it seems, at least in the arts, a geographically dislocated subject can be an Australian. The problematizing of the stability of ‘nation’ is glaring here particularly in the face of Australian border protection policies and indefinite detention in offshore processing centres for those who fail the tyranny of the immigration criteria. Is Gill’s inclusion a gesturing toward acknowledgement of who is an Australian as a result of the shifting geopolitical landscape or is she an anomaly?

Karen Charman

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Pavilion

Organizer/Commissioner:
Australian Council for the Arts
Artist:
Mathias Poledna
Curator:
Catherine de Zegher
Open Call?
No
Selection procedure:
Jury selection of the artist. The jury included the commissioner Simon Mordant, Chairman of the Board of the Museum of Contemporary Art and Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Greenhill & Co., Inc., a global corporate advisory firm specialising in the provision of financial and strategic advice including mergers & acquisitions, corporate restructuring, and capital optimisation.

Curator

Name:
Catherine de Zegher
Gender:
Female
Born:
The Netherlands, 1955
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
2

Artist

Name:
Simryn Gill
Gender:
Female
Born:
Singapore, 1959
Lives and works in:
Australia and Malaysia
No. of participations in the venice biennale:
1
Represented by galleries in:
Mumbai, New York and Sydney

Politics & Economics

State System:
Federal parliamentary constitutional monarchy
Ruling Political Party:
Social-democratic Labor Party
Population (World Bank, 2011):
22,323,900
GDP per capita (World Bank, 2011):
$61,789
Unemployment (World Bank, 2011):
5.1% of the labor force
Net OECD ODA Aid Donated (2011):
$5,439,710,000
Military Expenditure (SIPRI, 2011):
$26,158,000,000

Alliances


Coalition of the Willing
Commonwealth
G20
International Criminal Court recognized
OECD
WTO

Conflicts

Country independent since:
1901 (from Britain)
Last Major Border Revision:
1975 (Independence of Papua New Guinea)
Colonial History:
Former British colony
Global Militarization Index (BICC, 2011):
75
Nuclear Force?
No
Participation in Multinational Missons:
NATO mission in Afghanistan. UN peacekeeping missions in Cyprus, East Timor, Ethiopia & Eritrea, Iraq, Israel & the Middle East, Korea, Lebanon and Sudan. Peace operations in Egypt, Iraq, Middle East, Solomon Islands, Sudan.