2. Syed Shahriyar / Tony Albert / Musa N Nxumalo / Warwick Thornton

Syed Shahriyar
Pushed to the wall: Kashmir on the road to rebellion 2019, 2:49 mins

Tony Albert
You wreck me 2020, 4:06 mins

Musa N Nxumalo
The Anthology Of Youth 2020, 3:49 mins

Warwick Thornton
Meth Kelly 2020, 12:00 mins

Born 1992 in Srinigar, Kashmir
Lives and works in Srinigar

Pushed to the wall: Kashmir on the road to rebellion 2019
video, colour, sound
2:49 mins

Editor: Nausheen Khan
Music: Ali Saffudin
Courtesy the artist

Syed Shahriyar is a documentary photographer and filmmaker whose work documents the exhilaration of the struggle for freedom in Indian-held Kashmir, and the violence of its consequences.

Shahriyar’s new short film Pushed to the wall is a trailer for a larger documentary film in progress. It reflects on the popular uprisings in Kashmir since 2008, resulting in a new generation of Kashmiri youth increasingly moving towards armed rebellion, with 2018 the deadliest year in a decade. On 5 August 2019 the Indian parliament passed a decree abolishing Article 370 of the constitution which had given a measure of autonomy to the Muslim-majority Himalayan region, which is now in a state of lockdown.

Born 1981 in Townsville, Australia
Lives and works in Sydney

You Wreck Me 2020
video, colour, sound
4:06 mins

Director: Tony Albert
Editing: Andrew Haining
Videography: Rhett Hammerton
Music performed by Elly Conomos
Courtesy the artist and Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney
Commissioned by the Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, for Making Art Work 2020

In You Wreck Me, artist Tony Albert assumes the role of a trickster. An archetypal character, featured throughout folklore, religion, and mythology, tricksters use their charm and cunning intellect to teach laypeople important morals and life lessons. Drawing inspiration from this historical trope, Albert’s trickster explores the complexity of memorialisation and nationalism through the lens of parody.

Playing on Australia’s self-deprecating humour (known as ‘taking the piss’), You Wreck Me not only offers an hilarious reimagining of Miley Cyrus’s infamous video clip Wrecking Ball, but a sharp and timely questioning of our national history.

Unlike the original version, which depicts a naked Cyrus straddling a wrecking ball, Albert’s interpretation takes on a more political tone, with the artist sitting atop a suspended exercise ball, ploughing down monuments of Captain Cook. Painted up for ceremony, Albert’s impersonation here recalls the reductive representations that are often imposed on First People.

— Liz Nowell

Born 1986 in Soweto, South Africa
Lives and works in Johannesburg, South Africa

The Anthology of Youth 2020
video, sound
3:49 mins

Courtesy the artist and SMAC Gallery, Cape Town / Johannesburg / Stellenbosc

Musa N. Nxumalo’s ongoing project, The Anthology of Youth, is marked by a convergence of twin concerns that Nxumalo has been exploring over recent years – revolving around the idea of the photographer and his medium as both author and witness. Nxumalo has been steadily developing a unique visual vocabulary that delicately balances his interests in social documentary and fine art photography. To this end, he astutely employs the black and white ‘film’ construct in images that courageously consider and capture the appearances and experiences of contemporary black South African youth. This results in a photographic oeuvre that oscillates between great empathetic intimacy and journalistic distance with unmissable humanity.

The Anthology of Youth is more than just a collection of impressions and appearances. It is a call to the viewer to look for messages, clues or opportunities that enable them to see something beyond a first assumption. These are photographs that bear witness to the mighty impulses that enabled Nxumalo to give us a closer view of life’s vital forces.

— Percy Mabandu

Born 1970 in Alice Springs, Australia
Lives and works in Alice Springs

Meth Kelly 2020
single-channel digital video, colour, sound
5:00 mins

Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne
Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney

“A life in question will unfold tattoo parlour to the tote of this glass pipe the nation shall rise up in a hail of burn outs, black eyes and southern crosses.”

Warwick Thornton’s bold video installation Meth Kelly 2020 explores how Australia’s colonial frontier narrative has been shaped by the imaginary heroic actions of the cult figure Ned Kelly. The work questions the legitimacy of Kelly’s hero status through a modern reinterpretation of his moral persona. Thornton skews the national narrative rooted in the romance of a Western, by transforming Kelly into a “meth head robbing a 7-Eleven”, placing him in a banal (sub)urban delinquent realm, far removed from cult status.