cloud 2000

cloud was quite a resolved exhibition for me, in that it brought all elements together: my childhood, the Christianity from my childhood, the problems with that, and also histories of Aboriginal peoples. I tried to make connections by showing things like the cow floating in an ethereal sort of sky – a strange animal to Aboriginal people, yet it’s also an animal Aboriginal people would kill when food supplies were running out. Aboriginal people would actually be shot or hunted down for doing these things, for trying to survive, themselves. The feather, almost suspended in the sky, could also be quite a heavy thing. I see the feather, myself, as sort of a messenger, sending messages onto people and community and places. MR

cloud was the first body of work Michael Riley conceived of in the digital medium; it was his last photographic series and most acclaimed. It premiered at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, in 2000 and was then selected for the 2002 Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane. The series of ten images features icons distilled to their most poignant, set against an expansive Australian blue sky. cloud was also shown at Photographica Australis in Spain in 2002, at the 8th Istanbul Biennial: Poetic justice in 2003 and in 2004 at the 11th Asian Art Biennale in Bangladesh, where Riley was awarded a Grand Prize. In 2006, cloud was selected for permanent display as part of the Australian Indigenous Art Commission at the Musée du quai Branly, and is currently held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane. In 2010 images from the series featured in the Bangarra Dance Theatre production Of earth and sky: Riley.

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