This week, the Museum is opening Banana-kids – a small, experimental, mini-exhibition in our main temporary space.
Banana-kids is a collection of quirky and expressive sculptures, by Chinese Australian ceramic artist Douglas Cham. These sculptures, 12 in all, are over-sized chopstick-holders, depicting Australian native animals emerging from banana skins. They refer to Chinese Australians, and each member of the family of sculptures represents ‘Chineseness’ as well as certain characteristics of Australian culture.
Bliss Jensen, one of our exhibition project coordinators, reviewed this collection last year on East Side Radio 2RES:
Douglas Cham’s polished earthenware packs a political punch and reflects on his personal experience of displacement as a Chinese male in Australia. The title Banana-kids, is drawn from the term used by immigrant Chinese about first generation children, inferring “yellow on the outside, but white on the inside”… They are beautifully rendered pieces which make you want to move right up close to view them. Upon doing so, you are confronted with a subtle sourness in the detail, such as the red inked banana brand stamp on each skin showing the date 1901-1973, the lengthy period of the White Australia Policy. Through his ceramics, Cham isn’t just reflecting his personal immigrant experience and the tension between traditional and Western culture, he also looks at his standing in a broader, collective, Australian position on cultural relations, to expose some interesting tensions.
Projects such as this give us the chance to explore and reflect on the diversity of our contemporary culture, and what happens when different cultures come together. Our museum is a great place to try new ways of sharing and discussing these issues. We would love to hear what you think, both about the issues raised in this installation, and about the installation itself, so please leave your comments here!
Banana-kids is on show at the Museum until November 21st.
And if you do visit, you may hear some construction work going on behind the walls – that’s our next exhibition going up – tell you more about that one later…