The exhibition Ghosts of self and state, curated by Geraldine Barlow, ran 5 April-10 June 2006, at the Monash University Museum of Art, Clayton, Melbourne. It included work by Moataz Nasr (Egypt), Marcus Schinwald (Austria), and Tom Nicholson. Three works by Nicholson occupied the central room of the Museum:
33 framed photographs of 33 ball-point pen drawings, two framed texts, pencil wall drawing.
The John McBride Collection.
Towards the end of WWII, a pamphlet was dropped over East Timor by the RAAF, urging East Timorese to remember the Australian soldiers who had been posted in East Timor and to resist the Japanese occupation. The pamphlet was entitled, in Portuguese, “Your friends do not forget you”. I obtained a copy of this pamphlet form the archives of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. I made 33 ball-point pen drawings of the pamphlet, and these drawings were documented photographically before I left for East Timor in August 1999.
Through my connection to the Melbourne-based group USET (University Students for East Timor) and the East Timorese student resistance group ETSSC (East Timor Student Solidarity Council), I worked for a short time for pro-independence East Timorese in Dili in the lead up to the UN-sponsored ballot on independence from Indonesia. During this time I performed Dili action.
Although the intention was to perform the action in public, violence by the Indonesian military and their militia forced those of us working at the ETSSC office into hiding. The pamphlets were distributed inside, to the East Timorese who provided shelter that day and the next.
The work After Dili action presents traces of this action: a wall text, and 1:1 scale photographs of the drawings which had been distributed in East Timor. It was first exhibited at West Space, Melbourne, in 2000, and, later in 2000, at the Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney, in the exhibition Critical Response, curated by Felicity Fenner and Dr Charles Green.
Dili action was followed by a “sister” work, Melbourne action, 1999, and also led to the two-year project, Action for another library, traces of which were exhibited in full form in 2003 in Melbourne and Berlin, and in the 2006 Biennale of Sydney.
Two A1 posters, off-set printed, framed, 30 second DVD, and Lambda Print .
Action for 2pm Sunday 6 July 1835 was an action undertaken in Melbourne in November 2005. 1,000 pairs of posters were pasted around the city on a nightly basis for ten nights.
The posters show William Buckley, the escaped convict from Macclesfield who lived with the Wathaurung people around Geelong for three decades. The work centers on 6 July 1835, when Buckley rejoined European settlers, arriving with several Wathaurung men at a camp site at Indented Head established by John Batman and his commercial venture The Port Phillip Association. The work was conceived as a meditation on this meeting, a moment of peculiar political significancewhich was also a popular subject for 19th century image-making. The action was undertaken in a nocturnal space, a space connected to the work’s function as a kind of memorial.
The project was part of the first Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture (and an installation a Federation Square formed part of the exhibition for the Prize).
Lambda photographoc prints, and found of-set poster, framed, with text screenprinted on glass.
This part of the installation comprised traces form Flags for a trades hall council, a public installation at the Victorian Trades Hall Council and the Ian Potter Museum of Art which ran from November 2005 until January 2006. The flags draw on the face of Marat from David’s painting The Death of Marat (1793). They were generated by an extended drawing process. Three charcoal drawings were reworked over several months, and digitally photographed at different stages of their development. These photographs were the basis of the digitally-printed images on the flags. The flags were photographed by Christian Capurro and Tom Nicholson over several days during the life of the installation. The photographs in Ghosts of self and state were taken by Capurro in collaboration with Nicholson in January 2006.