Jason Wing wants to start a conversation.
The Sydney-based artist's exhibition What Binds Us, showing at the Manning Regional Art Gallery until this Sunday, July 21, is designed to "call into question our understanding of history and current socio-political reality, challenging us to think beyond our cultural comfort zones."
He will also be giving an artist talk at the gallery this Saturday, July 20, at 11am, speaking about the exhibition and discussing the NAIDOC theme for 2019 Voice, Treaty, Truth.
Jason is a descendant of Aboriginal Biripi (on his mother's side) and Cantonese (his father's) heritage, but grew up on Gadigal land in Sydney.
While he's always known about his Biripi background, he said that as he's matured (he's now 42), he's developed more of a yearning to connect to Country and the local community.
"It's the Country calling you, an intuitive calling of intangible forces," he said.
Jason describes What Binds Us as a thought-provoking show that aims to have a conversation and inspire social change by showing the challenges Aboriginal people have faced as a result of colonisation, in the three layers of past, present and future.
"It does touch on ongoing oppression and disengagement of Aboriginal people in all systems at a constitutional level, looking from invasion until now."
The exhibition confronts historical truths.
It includes a chilling quote from 1816 printed on the gallery wall, by the then NSW Governor Lachlan Macquarie, ordering soldiers to take Aborigines as prisoners of war, to shoot those who resist and to hang their bodies so to "strike terror into the hearts of the surviving natives".
Another installation sees the arsenic symbol stamped into 400 pieces of toast and mounted on the wall. It highlights not only the historical context of mixing arsenic into damper to deliberately poison indigenous people but also references the chemicals that are in our food today and slowly killing us.
He feels the contemporary nature of the exhibition will really resonate with local youth.
Jason's art career has seen his work exhibited nationally and internationally.
He's had an ongoing association with the Taree gallery for a long time but this is the first time he's exhibited work in the Manning.
"This exhibition is arguably the most significant for me. It's the ultimate to be able to make work about Country that is shown in Country, the challenge involved being a stranger in my own land because I wasn't raised here, and getting to meet the community and help piece my family history together."
Jason uses multi-disciplinary art mediums to create his work.
"I start with the concept and then think 'what is the best medium to convey this message?'. This takes me to weird and wonderful places.
"As an artist I like to explore everything. Why limit yourself as an artist? It doesn't make sense to me. I try not to limit myself generally.
"I do everything from photographs to toast to steel and animation. If I don't know how to do something, I find out. But the concept is first and the materials and methodology second."
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