Counter-monuments: Challenging distorted colonial histories through public art and memorials

In March 2021, Genevieve Grieves and Amy Spiers co-convened the online symposium Countermonuments: Indigenous settler relations in Australian contemporary art and memorial practices with hosting partner Australian Centre for Contemporary Art. The symposium offered reflections on how the broader public’s understanding of Australian colonial history, its violence and legacies, can be challenged and transformed through creative memorialisation and critical, counter-monument artistic practice. It featured contributions by Paola Balla, Lilly Brown, Fiona Foley, Kate Golding, Julie Gough, Dianne Jones, Djon Mundine, Odette Kelada, Clare Land, Carol Que, Joel Sherwood Spring, and the Unbound Collective. Part of an ongoing project, the symposium will inform an anthology of essays to be published by Springer in 2022. In the following conversation, Grieves and Spiers consider key works and ideas raised during the symposium, as well as debates stimulated by counter-monument art practices, and how they become critical scenes to appraise past and present relations between First Peoples and settlers in Australia.

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