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Jonathan Jones

untitled (transcriptions of country)
From 26/11/2021 to 20/02/2022
The new project untitled (transcriptions of country) investigates the colonial transport, trade and the acclimatisation of Australian native plants, animals and objects, together with the colonisation of associated local Aboriginal knowledge.
Its source of inspiration is the French expedition to the southern lands led by Captain Nicolas Baudin in 1800- 1803. Commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, this was one of the most extensive scientific expeditions ever undertaken in Australia, which brought back to France many artifacts and living elements.
The exhibition takes on multiple forms to unfold this complex story, central to the artistic approach being the process of translation. Of the plant species brought back by the expedition and preserved at the National Herbarium in Paris, more than 300 specimens were collected in Sydney. These have been reproduced as handmade embroideries by refugee and migrant collectives in Sydney and presented as a new translation of the archive. Sculptures, after imperial crown wreaths but created with Australian materials and portraits of Aboriginal people, are displayed on the walls. A soundscape – inspired amongst other things by a corroboree (an Australian Aboriginal ceremony) as transcribed during the expedition – is broadcast in the space, while a video tells the story of the project and its context. Each body of work highlights how the interpretation and understanding of other cultures can be altered through communication and exchange.
Teaser of the exhibition “untitled (transcriptions of country)” by Jonathan Jones

For untitled (transcription of country), Jonathan Jones has carried out extensive research work both in Australia and France – at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris, the Museum of Natural History in Le Havre and the Château de Malmaison (where he will benefit from an exhibition at the beginning of 2022). The exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo, its first in Europe, will be accompanied by a text by Australian author Tara June Winch in the PALAIS magazine to be published in April 2022. It will be presented in the fall of 2022 at Artspace in Sydney together with a monographic publication.

From 26/11/2021 to 20/02/2022

Curators Daria de Beauvais, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Michelle Newton, assisted by Lisa Colin

With the support of

Media partners


Exhibition realised in partnership with Artspace (Sydney).

Research and exhibition developed by Jonathan Jones with the support of elders Aunty Julie Freeman and Uncle Charles Madden.

In the framework of Australia now France 2021-2022, an initiative of the Australian Government celebrating Australia’s creative excellence, diversity and innovation.

This project is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; by the NSW Government through Create NSW; by the Australian Government through the Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is also supported by the City of Sydney and the Copyright Agency’s Cultural Fund.

The embroideries are the result of a close collaboration with the women’s embroidery groups associated with Information + Cultural Exchange (I.C.E.) and with the Adorned Collective; with the support of Yamane Fayed (I.C.E.) and Liam Benson (Adorned Collective).

The artist’s preliminary research in France has been supported by Lafayette Anticipations – Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette.