courtesy: der Künstler und Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
RAINBOW SERPENT (VERSION) is the most comprehensive exhibition of Daniel Boyd’s artistic practice in Europe to date. It provides an overview of Boyd’s image-making that counters the colonial narrative of Australia’s history, engages transnational networks of resistance, Indigenous knowledge production and personal family histories, which he reflects in relation to the context and architecture of the Gropius Bau.
Conceived in close dialogue with Daniel Boyd, RAINBOW SERPENT (VERSION) stages 44 of the artist’s paintings with two new large-scale installations that engage directly with the Gropius Bau’s historical architecture. Unfolding across the first floor and atrium, the exhibition emphasises non-linear connections between subject matter and ideas of temporality and space.
In our playlist, you can listen to Daniel Boyd talking about selected works on view at the Gropius Bau. The recordings can also be accessed via QR codes in the exhibition.
One important touchpoint in Daniel Boyd’s exhibition is the work of poet and philosopher Édouard Glissant. Glissant wrote of a “right to opacity”, or the right to not be defined by a Western epistemology of transparency, which reduces and erases difference. Drawing on Glissant’s thinking, Boyd developed a unique visual technique: his paintings employ dots, made with archival glue. In interplay with black paint, these dots produce a trembling overlay. This technique emphasises the right for a representation focusing on opacity instead of Western-derived visuality of transparency. Boyd examines darkness as a means of Indigenous resistance to the inherited ideas of European Enlightenment thinking and its insistence on illumination, transparency and disclosure.
In RAINBOW SERPENT (VERSION), Daniel Boyd engulfs the building’s architecture in a second skin layered over the atrium and first floor windows. The atrium’s floor is covered in mirrors reflecting the existing architecture in a fragmented, ever-changing image. An integral part of the exhibition is a public programme that, much like a theatre, plays out on this floor installation.
Non-First Nations people erroneously use the blanket term “Rainbow Serpent” to refer to various creation stories from individual First Nation communities in Australia. The use of the term reflects a lack of respect for the diversity of First Nations’ respective cosmologies. Whereas First Nations myths are as diverse as these communities themselves, the term “rainbow serpent” categorises and reduces the particularity of these individual cosmologies. By adding “(VERSION)” to the term in the title of his exhibition, Boyd points to the pluralism and specificities of First Nations worldviews and cultures.
Curated by Stephanie Rosenthal and Carolin Köchling
Developed in partnership with the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane
The exhibition addresses colonial violence. Members of First Nations and Great Ocean Indigenous communities are advised that people mentioned in writing or depicted in artworks may have passed away.