Michael Cook: Undiscovered - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Michael Cook: Undiscovered


17 August to 7 November 2020

The first career survey of Australian artist, Michael Cook.

Over the last decade, Michael Cook has produced photo media works that interrogate the legacy of colonisation in Australia.

From his reflections on the political leadership of Australia and his revisioning of colonial history; to his rethinking of assimilation and the great Australian dream, Cook has consistently made images that ask the viewer to reconsider Australia’s conflicted history and its impact on the political, social and personal of our present day.

The exhibition includes over 70 works selected from the series’ Through my eyes (2009), Broken dreams (2010), Undiscovered (2010), Stickman (2011), The mission (2012), Civilised (2012), Majority rule (2014), Object (2015), Mother (2016), Invasion (2017), and Livin’ the dream (2020) and traces Cook’s unique practice over this time.

The exhibition will relaunch USC Art Gallery after a period of closure for redevelopment and will be accompanied by a major publication.


Megan Williams

Publication supporters

Alan Conder and Alan Pigott
Caloundra Regional Gallery | Sunshine Coast Council

Exhibition lenders

Andrew Baker Art Dealer
Michael Rayner AM and Kylie Rayner
MUMA (Monash University Museum of Art)
Moreton Bay Regional Council
Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre
UQ Art Museum

Michael Cook
Civilised #13 2012
Inkjet print on paper, 100.0 x 87.5cm
Courtesy the artist and Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane

virtual exhibition

About the artist

Of the Bidjara people of south-west Queensland, Michael Cook was born in Brisbane and raised in Hervey Bay. Cook has lived and worked on the Sunshine Coast for over 30 years, much of this time spent working as a commercial photographer in Australia and overseas. In 2009 he began to make art photography driven by an urgent desire to explore issues of identity.

For what has been a relatively short career, Cook has achieved remarkable recognition and acclaim. He has exhibited extensively in Australia and abroad including 7th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art (2013), 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire (2014), the 2015 Venice Biennale as part of Personal Structures: Crossing Borders at Palazzo Mora, Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation, British Museum (2015), Lifelines: Indigenous Contemporary Art from Australia, Musées de la Civilisation (2015) and Artist and Empire: (En)countering Colonial Legacies, Tate/National Gallery Singapore, (2016), Taba Naba: Australie, Océanie, arts des peuples de la mer, Musée Océanographique de Monaco (2016), Mapping Australia: Country to Cartography, AAMU, Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Utrecht, (2018), and Defining Place/Space at the Museum of Photographic Arts (2019).

Cook’s work has been acquired by institutions including the British Museum (London), Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection (Charlottesville), National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, National Gallery of Victoria, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Contemporary Art and Art Gallery of Western Australia.