How we remember tomorrow considers the sea as memory

The group exhibition How we remember tomorrow centres the relationship between culture, tradition and the ocean: it illuminates how intergenerational storytelling, tied to oceanic themes, might counter and subvert settler-colonial narratives and legacies.

As assistant curator Isabella Baker explains, “The curatorial team engaged with artists whose practice connects with an understanding of the watery spaces of our planet as ancestral archives and sources of knowledge, which carry stories and cultural practices.”

Among the 13 artists and collaborations are Lisa Reihana, Brook Garru Andrew, Atong Atem, and Sonja Carmichael and Elisa Jane Carmichael. Mediums range from sculpture, installation and photography to video work, virtual reality (VR) and performance. The show’s title is taken from a 2023 sculptural piece by Shivanjani Lal that is, Baker says, “a monument to the cultural memory of indentured labourers throughout the Great Ocean [Pacific Ocean]”.

Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser, Piña, Why is the Sky Blue?, 2021, video installation with open sound, virtual reality headsets, pillows, 3-D printing on woven piña fabric. Courtesy of the artists & ChertLüdde, Berlin, Germany.

Baker also highlights Stephanie Comilang and Simon Speiser’s multimedia installation Piña, Why Is the Sky Blue?, 2021, which features video, VR and 3D printing on woven piña fabrics. Also notable is the video work Neromanna, 2017, from the duo Latent Community, about a village in Greece that was displaced due to the construction of a dam in 1969. Yet the majority of exhibiting works focus on the Pacific, showing how “oceanic spaces are inextricable to the survival of all species”.

Taken together, the artworks are a collective prompt to “consider the sea as memory, the sea as history, and that the sea bears and channels time and space in every direction”, says Baker. “We hope that visitors engage deeply with artists’ vital practices of storytelling, submerging the colonial archive, and giving rise to futures that are sustained by Indigenous technologies, knowledge, kinship, constellations and planet-centred governance structures.”

How we remember tomorrow
UQ Art Museum
On now—15 June

Preview Words by Barnaby Smith