Inside Mawson's Sleeping Bag
explores the poetics of heroism and the
construction of national identity. In this work Bonita Ely has taken one of
Australia's most lionised feats of survival, Sir Douglas Mawson's
extraordinary journey to the Antarctic, and positioned it alongside the
experiences of the Stolen Generations who endured comparable pain and hardship
but were excluded from the grand narrative of white history.
In the works, photographs of everyday objects accompany excerpts from the
diaries and oral histories of both subjects. These components, woven together
in installation work on each other as a poetic evocation of our mortality.
Inside Mawson's Sleeping Bag suggests an alternative approach to
understanding Australian history. Ely starts from the veracity of our own
personal experiences allowing for empathy, convergences and complexities which
traditional grand narratives disavow. This exhibition continues a major
concern of her multidisciplinary practice - an endeavour to critically address
Aboriginal issues as a non-Indigenous Australian.