White Australia

Hayden Fowler2006

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

For Hayden Fowler, one motivation for his interdisciplinary practice is a critique of contemporary Western society. Fowler investigates our interactions with the natural world and how we define ourselves with regard to nature. He is interested in the nexus between civilisation and the domestication of animals, focusing on aspects such as interdependency and adaptation. The two video works, 'Goat Odyssey' and 'White Australia' both feature white animals in carefully constructed austere tableaux. In 'White Australia', white rats scuttle through two holes in a similarly tiled interior space. Talking about the work, Fowler describes it as his response to what he saw as the dangerously apathetic nature of dominant Australian culture during ‘the height of the Howard years’. Inspired by the unthinking mass movements of 9-5 commuters at a busy train station, the artist presents his rats as creatures caught in a system of power they have little control over. Highlighting the disquieting possibilities of our own increasingly narcissistic preoccupations, Fowler’s work suggests the need for a necessary empathetic relationship between humankind and animals.

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  • Title: White Australia
  • Creator: Hayden Fowler
  • Date Created: 2006
  • Type: Installation
  • Rights: Museum of Contemporary Art donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Henry Ergas, 2009 Image courtesy and copyright the artist
  • External Link: Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
  • Medium: single-channel video, sound