Law and the Humanities Artist in Residence - John Reid, Emeritus Fellow of The Australian National University
For more than three decades from 1969 to 2001, John Reid engaged with the law as a considered part of his creative practice as a graphic designer, student newspaper editor and visual artist.
From 5-18 August, John Reid will be working on his collage of Australian banknotes, Level 6, School of Law and Justice, Gold Coast campus, Southern Cross Drive, Bilinga. Drop by anytime to talk to the artist.
The subject of the banknote collage (see detail adjacent) is political or enforced disappearances. The artwork was initiated in 1982 in response to Amnesty International’s Disappearance Campaign triggered by the criminal political climate in Central and South America; and by the artist’s concern about the Australian government’s relationship with Indonesia and policy on East Timor.
An enforced disappearance is the abduction of a citizen and the subsequent secret detention, torture, murder and disposal of their body by agents of the State. In most cases, it is perpetrated to suppress popular opposition to repressive economic policies maintained through aid from foreign governments who are accomplices in the economic exploitation so as to support affluent living standards in their own countries.
The intent of the artwork is to appeal for ethical vigilance of the Australian government’s foreign policies that are fueled by greed. The conceptual relationship between the artwork’s focus on economic exploitation and its medium of money serves to visually dramatise this intention.
From 1984 to 1987, the artwork was legally contested which enhanced the impact of the work. Resolution of the legal proceedings involved the Federal Director of Public Prosecutions and the Federal Treasurer. Untitled is a process artwork. Its exhibition is performative and, in addition to the presentation of the collage, includes the creative procedures of its production in the studio space. There is no point in time when the work might be considered complete. Authorship is trans-generational. Custodial responsibility for the artwork and permission to work/rework its surface passes from one artist to another.