Righting the Wrongs
July 19 - Aug 2, 2008
Canadian artist Cathy Busby will present wall-text paintings for her exhibition Righting the Wrongs. These will be composed of excerpts of the apologies recently delivered to aboriginal peoples in Australia by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (February 13, 2008) and in Canada by Prime Minister Stephen Harper (June 11, 2008). The title is excerpted from Kevin Rudd’s speech, “The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia’s history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future…” While both apology speeches were hard-won and long-awaited, they were also fleeting as news media spectacles and worthy of critical consideration.
In this exhibition, one side of Ocular Lab will be painted to approximate the skin-tone of Prime Minister Rudd, while the other side will approximate the skin-tone of Prime Minister Harper as found in media images that accompanied each speech. The text excerpts from each speech will be painted in large stenciled lettering on these skin-toned adjacent walls, creating an opportunity for an extended consideration of the words contained in these historic admittances of wrong-doing. By isolating and enlarging the written words, Righting the Wrongs creates an opportunity for these two apologies to be experienced as non-media events – in relation to one another and as an artwork. The space of the Lab then becomes a space of re-evaluation enclosed by these white men’s skin-tones. Concurrently, the work re-asserts the acknowledgement of past injustice and the promise of justice made through these apologies to aboriginal peoples in Australia and Canada.
Cathy Busby is in Australia to present two exhibitions. In Sydney she presented Sorry (COFAspace, June 18 – July 11), a series of some 27 large prints representing the mouths of apologizing political figures, CEOs, sports stars, and celebrities accompanied by a small-format book (Sorry, 88 pp). In Melbourne she presents the wall-text paintings, Righting the Wrongs, another political and aesthetic investigation of the public apology. See: www.cathybusby.ca
“Two primary objectives of the residential schools system were to remove and isolate