Nice Dreams
Mixed Media

In July I took part in a residency at the Broken Hill Art Exchange. Sniffing around online for the local lowdown, this peculiar entry on Wikipedia had me hooked.

“The Battle of Broken Hill took place on New Year's Day 1915 when two men fired upon a trainload of picnickers in a self-described attack on the British Empire.”

The attack is considered by some to be the first act of terrorism in Australia. Researching the story in situ, only days before the July hotel bombings in Jakarta, I was struck by its contemporary resonance. Although undeniably tragic, in my imagination the events played out like a macabre outback comedy— made especially vivid by the renewed interest in Australian genre cinema, much of it shot in the area.

I spent three weeks prior to the show in residence at Black & Blue Gallery, Sydney, extrapolating on this piece of obscure yet pivotal history, in collaboration with Gustavo Böke. The resulting installation reflects my continued interest in incidents, characters and strategies that counter the legacies of colonial power in Australia.

"Sumugan Sivanesan and Gustavo Böke’s reimagining of this event draws on both contemporary dialogues about terrorism and Broken Hill’s history of Australian genre film to transform this series of accidents into an absurdist comedy of hallucinations and confused dreams."
Trischelle Roberts, Concrete Playground
"Sivanesan and Böke's particular kind of creative historical exploration adopts an approach that runs counter to convention: a chaotic but nonetheless designed museology, without any obligation towards an orderly string of compressed information. Instead, it's as though events from the past have become the artists' media, to assemble, construct and re-present."
Ella Barclay, Runway [Issue 15, Lies]

nice dreams - window
nice dreams - wall
Palm Island
David Busley, Palm Island 2004

September 4 - 19, 2009
Black & Blue Gallery