We bury our own (series of 8)
For this series, We bury our own 2012, Christian Thompson has drawn upon archives held in the great and strange Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford… The museum holds thousands of photographs of Aboriginal people collected for ethnographic and anthropological purposes… [Thomspon] has visited these images, not to duplicate them in any sense, or to borrow a pose or a garment – as he done in past works, but to immerse himself in what he describes as acts of ‘spiritual repatriation’ (John Barrett-Lennard, Western Australian Indigenous Art Awards 2013).Further still, at the centre of these works is a deep respect for Aboriginal people, culture and life.
Curatorial insightFor this series, We bury our own, Thompson has drawn upon archival ethnographic photographs of Aboriginal Australians held at the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford University. Thompson's response to the photographs was not one of replication but of immersion in what he calls 'acts of spiritual repatriation'. The archival photographs represent a static resting place whereas Thompson's current series are dynamic constructions of elements, utilising armature, make up, masks and concealment, in order to layer meaning and narrative. The original portraits of long since passed Indigenous people have been re-connected to the present by the performative and almost ceremonial construction of Thompson's imagery, and in this sense both works activate one another, and introduce to a new generation of viewers the possibility of contemplation of history and how it influences the present day. (AGWA 2015)