On 29 April 1770 James Cook of the British Royal Navy landed at Kamay, which Europeans later named Botany Bay, New South Wales. The area, like all of Australia, was of course already inhabited and had been for millennia. Kamilaroi artist Reko Rennie highlights this fact and marks the 250th anniversary of Cook’s arrival with a massive outdoor installation titled REMEMBER ME.
Rennie’s memorial is a giant illuminated billboard, some 25 metres long and five metres high, that outlines the words REMEMBER ME in blood red.
Reko Rennie said of his work and the anniversary, “I choose not to celebrate the arrival of colonial invaders and the dispossession of our land. Instead I want to acknowledge the original inhabitants whose lives were changed forever on this day, as well as affirm our survival, and reiterate that sovereignty was never ceded.”
Carriageworks director and CEO Blair French said, “We celebrate the continuation of Aboriginal presence and place through REMEMBER ME at the entrance to Carriageworks, a constant reminder of the continuing impact of invasion.”
French added that he hoped that the anniversary would trigger positive cultural introspection. He said, “we are reminded of the importance of art and artists in highlighting those histories we must not forget, whilst pointing forward to better, more inclusive futures.”
REMEMBER ME is on view outside Carriageworks for all of 2020.
View a video of the work here.