Comparative monument (Palestine)
Mixed media, dimensions variable
Throughout Australia, war monuments bear the name “Palestine” to commemorate the presence of Australian troops in Palestine during World War I and, in particular, Australian involvement in the 1917 British capture of Beersheba (in turn a critical city in the events of 1948 and the Nakba). These monuments also reflect the realities of the 1920s (when they were erected) and the era of the British Mandate, when the name Palestine implicitly invoked the shared position of Australia and Palestine within British imperialism. Comparative monument (Palestine) begins with a complete photographic record of these monuments bearing the name “Palestine” in and around Melbourne. Figuring this material into a Palestinian context—both a kind of “homecoming” and exile for these Australian monumental forms—becomes a way to reanimate these linkages between Australia and Palestine. In these forms dedicated to 1917, Nicholson implicates the events and repercussions of 1948 with their echoes of Australian Aboriginal experiences of dispossession and colonial violence. Comparative monument(Palestine) is an attempt to rethink the possibilities of the monument in the face of these histories of dispossession and the acts of imagination and solidarity these histories demand.
Tom Nicholson is an artist who lives in Melbourne, a lecturer in drawing in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Monash University. He has worked with archival material and the visual languages of politics, often using public actions and focusing on the relationship between actions and their traces. He engages aspects of Australia’s early colonial history through combinations of drawings, monumental forms, and posters to articulate these histories in relation to the present. He has held solo exhibitions nationally and internationally, including the 2012 Adelaide Biennale; Marking Time,Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2012; the 2010 Shanghai Biennale; the 4th Auckland Triennial, 2010; and the 2006 Biennale of Sydney. He is represented by Milani Gallery.