‘In Absence’, the fifth National Gallery of Victoria’s (NGV) Architecture Commission proposal by contemporary indigenous artist Yhonnie Scarce and Edition Office, has been completed.
The installation invites its audience to acknowledge histories of sophisticated toolmaking, design, construction and agriculture established by Australian Indigenous communities.
Amidst the NGV’s Grollo Equiset Garden, the wooden tower rises from a surround field of kangaroo grass, yams and a path of crushed Victorian basalt.
The cylinder is clad in a dark-stained Tasmanian hardwood, rising nine metres high by ten metres wide.
With two curved chambers dissecting the tower and creating a passage, the the narrow vertical aperture presents hundreds of hand-blown, black glass yams.
‘The building’s presence is immediate and visceral, “demanding witness both to its scale and presence but also the falsely declared void at its heart,” says a statement according to the NGV.
“In Absence speaks directly to the richness of architecture, agriculture and industry of the traditional custodians of this land, the presence of which sadly lies hidden within the myopic shadows of this nation’s history… [and] discredits[s] … the long-held narrative that the traditional custodians to the land were all nomadic hunter-gatherers,” Scarce and Edition Office states.