I Give You a Mountain [Video] by Joan Ross - 2018 | Michael Reid Gallery

Joan Ross
I Give You a Mountain [Video], 2018

HD video animation
6:30 duration
edition of 10 + 2AP

Animation by Josh Raymond

I Give You a Mountain [Video], 2018 is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Joan’s Holophusicon

As an artist, Joan Ross has high visibility, and like many of us who wear hi-vis, her job is dangerous! She spends long hours excavating histories and disrupting narratives: in her hands colonial art is held captive and the empire is sent packing. She deserves danger money. In the perfect paradox, hi-vis is Joan’s disguise. It’s her camouflage – it helps her to go unnoticed so that she can get away with anything.

We all thought that Sarah Stone’s late nineteenth century watercolours, some of which are held in Australian collections, were the last visual trace of Sir Ashton Lever’s Museum in Leicester Square, London. But almost 250 years after Stone’s commission to capture Lever’s specimens, Joan Ross has moved into the museum, and she’s wearing hi-vis camo. Room after room of curiosities, many collected on the voyages of Captain Cook, are reclaimed by Ross.

Ross has been busy renovating: the conches and corals are still in their cabinets but headless birds & beheaded colonials are in bell jars, and balloons beckon. Lever invented a name for his museum of more than a quarter of a million specimens. He called it Holophusicon, to reflect to his quest to capture the whole of nature. Lever lost his museum because his ambitions exceeded his means – his curiosity colonised him in the end. Is it Lever, or is it Cook, who crumble just before the credits? The colonisers and their bounty collapse but bird song, the soundtrack of 60 million years, lingers.

Lisa Slade, 2018

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