Our Common Bondtakes its title from the Australian Citizenship Test booklet, which outlines what it means to be an Australian: the responsibilities and opportunities it affords you, the history you are inheriting, the culture you will be welcomed into, and the rules and regulations you must abide by. “Australia successfully combines ethnic and cultural diversity with national unity. Citizenship is the bond that unites us all.”- p.3
This booklet opens Australia's arms to people of every culture, religion and ethnicity. However, its language also contributes to Australia’s cultural amnesia when referring to the treatment of Indigenous Australians and migrants, and the effects of colonisation. It celebrates the many positives, but brushes over the negatives as follies of the past that no longer bear scars. It identifies certain days, behaviours and beliefs as being "Australian", even though many Australians would not agree that these ideas and events represent them.
This exhibition uses this booklet as a starting point to discuss Australia’s history and current attitudes towards the country’s diverse population, as well as examining what is meant by "Australian" culture and values.
(Image: Dean Cross, PolyAustralis #29 (Rolf Harris) 2016, archival inkjet print on cotton rag, 59.4 x 84.1cm, edition 5 + 2AP)