Dreams are often juxtaposed against reality as a stark reminder that they are simply illusions of ideals. Artist Michael Cook’s Broken Dreams vividly portrays this by trampling the divisive line of ancestry and colonisation. The series of 10 photographs are set in a foggy, ethereal state tied together with the changing perspective of the young Aboriginal woman: from starry-eyed wonder and excitement to rejection and sadness.
In our cover image, number 3 of the series, Cook captures the symbol of hope and curiosity in the image of the beautiful Indigenous ingénue adorned with Western jewellery and clothing, her hair fashioned into a stifling crown. The ashen-coloured palette of the photograph is punctuated by the blissfully bright rainbow lorikeet; a native bird intensely set against the bleak colours of the arrivals.
Based on the Sunshine Coast, Cook is a Brisbane-born Bidjara artist ‘raised with a strong understanding of [his] Aboriginal ancestry’. While growing up, it was witnessing his mother ‘fight for Aboriginal rights through the 1970s and 1980s’ which gave him a comprehensive ‘understanding of a wide variety of views’.
Prior to his artistic endeavours, Cook established himself as a freelance commercial photographer. Now he feels that the art he produces establishes ‘a stronger connection with [his] ancestry’. In a way, he attaches his artwork with the narrative of teasing the tepid debate of colonisation out from the hostile screen of race that has segregated Aboriginal people from today’s society. Cook uses these notions to urge the viewer to ‘close the gap’, not just to view Aboriginal people as equals but regard them as the norm, as well.