Undiscovered

Photographic Works by Michael Cook

Undiscovered #9 Michael Cook © 2010 ANMM Collection

Image credit: Undiscovered #9 (2010) © Michael Cook. ANMM Collection.

  • Michael Cook

    A Contemporary Perspective 

    Undiscovered provides a contemporary Indigenous perspective of European settlement in Australia, a land already populated by its original people. Cook's artworks shift roles and perspectives around the notion of European ‘discovery’ of Australia, reflecting upon our habitual ways of thinking and seeing our history.

    This series questions who really discovered Australia while making reference to what was always here, what has been introduced and the effect this had on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, their culture and country.

    Role-Switching

    The scene is set on the shoreline looking out to sea, the site that bought the first ships to Australia. The photos depict an Aboriginal man role-switching with his colonisers, at times he is  dressed in full colonial style clothing,  other times the colonial clothing is removed revealing the strength and resilience of Indigenous Australians before and after colonisation.

    Throughout the series the man is joined by some of our Australian native animals as well as modern introduced objects. In some photos a sailing ship appears on the horizon a strong reminder of European colonisation.

    About the artist

    Portrait of artist Michael Cook

    Michael Cook is from the Bidjara people of south-west Queensland. Although an emerging artist, he has a wealth of photographic knowledge and experience that has gained him national and international recognition.

    He originally worked as a fashion photographer and has effectively applied these skills to the visual arts with Undiscovered 2010, which comprises a suite of 10 photographs and was recently acquired by the Australian National Maritime Museum.

    Text courtesy ANMM / Tina Baum, Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art in artonview, issue 65, autumn 2011

    Australian Government National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach program

    Tour Dates

    14 April- 4 June 2017
    South Australian Maritime Museum, Adelaide

    17 June 2017 – 27 August 2017 
    Museum & Art Gallery, Northern Territory, Darwin NT



    ABC interview with Michael Cook and Donna Carstens   

    ABC Weekend Breakfast's Miriam Corowa interviews Michael Cook and Donna Carstens about his exhibition, Undiscovered , at the Australian National Maritime Museum.


    Buy the book

    Image credit: Undiscovered #4 (2010) © Michael Cook. ANMM Collection.

    Order the East Coast Encounter catalogue from our online store which features some of Michael Cook's works and those of other artists.


    The Australian National Maritime Museum acknowledges all traditional custodians of the lands and waters throughout Australia and pay our respects to them and their cultures; and to elders both past and present.


    “Michael Cook’s elegiac visual poems use a rich palette of moody greys to shape contemporary attitudes.... a genuine, and persuasive, voice.”
    - Michael Desmond from Wistful Humour: Michael Cook’s Antipodean Garden Of Eden 

    “Cook asks us to consider how Australian history might have been different if early explorers and settlers had ‘seen through the eyes of the Aboriginal people’”
    - Dr. Lisa Chandler, University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland from Points of View: Michael Cook’s Re-Imagined Histories


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