No Looking Back

Islam and Identity in Contemporary Australian Art

  • Sam Bowker CSU
Keywords: Islam, Australian, Art, Contemporary, Muslim


This is a critical review of changes in the two years since I wrote “The Invisibility of Islamic Art in Australia” for The Conversation in 2016. This includes the National Museum of Australia’s collaborative exhibition “So That You May Know Each Other” (2018), and the rise of the Eleven Collective through their exhibitions “We are all affected” (2017) in Sydney and “Waqt al-Tagheer – Time of Change” (2018) in Adelaide. It considers the representation of Australian contemporary artists in the documentary “You See Monsters” (2017) by Tony Jackson and Chemical Media, and the exhibition “Khalas! Enough!” (2018) at the UNSW.

These initiatives demonstrate the momentum of generational change within contemporary Australian art and literary performance cultures. These creative practitioners have articulated their work through formidable public networks. They include well-established and emerging artists, driven to engage with political and social contexts that have defined their peers by antagonism or marginalisation.

There has never been a ‘Golden Age’ for ‘Islamic’ arts in Australia. But as the Eleven Collective have argued, we are living in a time of change. This is an exceptional period for the creation and mobilisation of artworks that articulate what it means to be Muslim in Australia.


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