OUR FUTUREArtwork — 2019
Artwork by Amy Spiers.
Design by Andrew Clapham.
A0 sized street posters, paper size 1189mm x 841mm.
Commissioned by Climarte and curated by Will Foster for Climarte Poster Project II as part of ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2019 Festival, Melbourne, Australia.
Exhibited at Testing Grounds and across Melbourne, 26 April to 18 May 2019.
Our Future responded to the Climarte Poster Project II curatorial brief to provoke public dialogue on the unfolding climate emergency. The artwork drew on a long history of activist and artist posters but aimed to provoke and disrupt by resisting the brief to clearly communicate a message.
Our Future employs phrases in local Indigenous languages to consider the rich knowledge and experience in ecological management and protection possessed by First Peoples, and conversely settlers’ ongoing ignorance and disregard of that knowledge. It was informed by the conviction of Aboriginal leaders and scholars, such as Tony Birch and Zena Cumpston, that to combat the impact of climate change the broader non-Indigenous community needs to engage with Indigenous practices of caring for Country.
The poster consists of Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung translations of the phrase: “Our future depends on respecting country and Indigenous ways of being”. I collaborated with Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung Elders and linguists to develop the phrases. The fact that the poster does not communicate its message to the majority of settler readers is intended to underscore the dominant cultures' illiteracy in First People’s culture and expertise: the poster is a warning sign that cannot be heeded.
The work was commissioned by Climarte and curated by Will Foster as part of ART+CLIMATE=CHANGE 2019 Festival. It was presented as part of the second iteration of the Climarte Poster Project alongside posters by other contemporary Australian artists: Eugenia Lim, Sam Wallman, Clare McCracken, Julia Ciccarone, Jen Rae, Peter Waples-Crow, Kelly Doley, Salote Tawale and Dean Cross. More than 1000 posters from the series were pasted up around the streets of Melbourne and exhibited at Testing Grounds from April to May 2019.
Dr Haley Singer in the catalogue essay for the exhibition described Our Future as generatively provoking “race anxiety and ecological anxiety”. She elaborated: “I do not have the skills to see Country through concrete. I live this illiteracy, but I am not often asked to confront it in the way Our Future, 2019, created by Amy Spiers in conjunction with Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung linguists and Elders, asks me to. On this poster there are two phrases. When I see them, I am called to recognise a deep connection to land, waters and air”.
The work is in the collection of the State Library of Victoria and was exhibited in their “The Changing Face of Victoria” exhibition curated by Bethan Johnson and Linda Short from May 2021 to March 2022. It was also published in the book, Art + Climate = Change II, edited by Bronwyn Johnson and Kelly Gellatly (Melbourne University Publishing 2021).
︎ Climarte Poster Project II catalogue essay by Haley Singer
︎ Art Guide
︎ Melbourne University Publishing