Critical Review of the art work “Embedded: Craig Walsh”

Embedded: Craig Walsh

Title: Embedded

Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art


Venue Address: Sydney, Australia

Exhibition Dates: September 12, 2013 through November 24, 2013

Embedded is a current exhibition in Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibition has public art works in form of video projections onto nature or architecture (Museum of Contemporary Art, 2011). The main purpose of the exhibition is to show the connection between the local Aboriginal people and their country. It shows how the extraordinary historic rock art affects the lives of the aboriginal people. The exhibition is made up of two stunning moving-image artworks and several photographic portraits. The exhibition was opened on September 12, 2011 and will end in November 25, 2013 (Art Guide, 2013). It is located at Museum of contemporary Arts in Sydney, Australia. The curators of this exhibition are Judith Blackall and Robert Leonard. Robert Leonard is a director of the Institute of Modern Art (IMA) while Judith Blackall is the head of artistic programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). The two curators co-curated the exhibition which entails the demonstration of artworks by Craig Walsh at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Judith Blackall and Robert Leonard look at the works of the Australian artist – Craig Walsh in perspective, giving the visitors of the exhibition an opportunity to enjoy and learn the artworks of the artist.

The purpose of this essay is to analyze an existing exhibition in Sydney. The chosen exhibition is an important one to analyze because it involves the connection between human beings and the environment. This enables audience to understand their surrounding and use it for their best interest and benefit. The essay will provide general information about the exhibition: its artistic works, information about its curators, location and duration. The essay will also identify some of the positive and negative aspects of the exhibition.

  1. Discussion
    • General information about the exhibition

This exhibition displays a wide range of video works and photographic portraits of Australian artist, Craig Walsh. Born in 1966, Craig Walsh is well known for being an exceptional artist. He collaborates with the communities to produce site-responsive artworks which reflect the perspectives of such communities. The artworks of Craig Walsh are presented through media such as sculpture, performance, photography and video. Embedded was developed as a result of a commission from Rio Tinto and MCA Australia. This commission enabled Craig Walsh to work with the elders of Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation (in Peninsula), Rio Tinto staff and Murujuga National Park elders (Museum of Contemporary Arts, 2013). He interviewed elders in a makeshift studio in Dampia concerning video. He used these videos to project onto locations of particular meaning to his areas of interest. He then documented these projections and produced photographic portraits and video works to connect the relationship between the local communities and their country. The photographic portraits and video works also showed the significance of the ancient rock art of Peninsula. These videos and photographic portraits are often presented in the exhibition to bring landscape inside the Museum of Contemporary art. Through the exhibition, Walsh transforms photo and video gallery for visitors to feel embedded. The exhibition was organized by Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in collaboration with the Institute of Modern Art (IMA) and was co-curated by Judith Blackall and Robert Leonard.

  • Artwork found in the exhibition

Embedded has various visual artworks that demonstrate the artistic work of Craig Welsh. The exhibition has two stunning video artworks and several photographic portraits displayed at the exhibition site for visitors to enjoy and learn artworks from one of the best artists in Australia (Museum of Contemporary Arts, 2013). Walsh displays his videos and photographs in an immersive environment with about twenty one bins with iron ores and walls painted with colours like the colours of safety clothing used by mining workers.

This exhibition demonstrates various mechanisms of interacting with the landscape as evidenced in the Burrup Peninsula. The works of Craig Walsh presented in the exhibition include stories and perspectives that connect with communities of Peninsula meaningfully and through empowering process that relates with the environment. The photographs show the unique art set within the compelling natural beauty of Burrup Peninsula. It also shows the ruggedness of rocks in the area through impressive visual artworks. Embedded is staged in Level 1 South Galleries at the Museum of Contemporary art in Sydney, Australia and already attracts hundreds of visitors (Museum of Contemporary Arts, 2013). In the exhibition, audience are often positioned somewhere between land as a commodity on one hand and land as a cultural and spiritual roadmap on the other.

Walsh explains how the moving imagery, industrial containers of iron ore and photographic portrays work in the community of Murujuga, especially among the aboriginal communities. A multi-screen digital video is used to synchronise each screen in such a way that the images of Murujuga elders are seen in the dark explaining the importance of Murujuga for the entire lives of original inhabitants. These pictures of elders are contrasted with the rock formations of Murujuga. These images are generally embedded into the landscape to show the significance of the land of Murujuga to its inhabitants (Museum of Contemporary Arts, 2013). The artworks of Craig Walsh are presented and explained in the embedded: Craig Walsh’s exhibition at the Museum of contemporary Art by Michael Fitzgerald, Robert Leonard and Judith Blackall. Craig Walsh spent a lot of time with Murujuga people at Pilbara and interacted with them to understand their culture and environment. That is when he took the photographs and video images that are being presented in the exhibition.

The images and photographs also show a natural shifting light on a sacred site with 96 standing stones. A technique referred to as high-resolution interval photography is used to transform color from purple to orange red. The show also consists of essays produced by Michael Fitzgerald, Robert Leonard and Judith Blackall. It also features an interview with Craig Walsh by Annemarie Kohn (Museum of Contemporary Arts, 2013). All these types of artworks and presentations at the exhibition are the results of the exceptional artistic work of Craig Walsh who has the ability to combine various objects to come up with interesting artworks in form of photographic portrays, moving images and sculptures (Barkley et al., 2013).

  • Positive aspects of the exhibition (strengths)

The artistic work of Craig Walsh plays a significant role in the lives of many people in Australia. Apart from streaming enjoyable pictures, photographs and videos for the viewing pleasure of audience, it also displays the significance of land and the environment to the aboriginal people of Pilbara region where aboriginal people have occupied for over 50,000 years. It demonstrates how iron mining has influenced the people, and how the rocky land has also been affected by mining in the area. This enables people to identify themselves to the environment and learn to appreciate nature and conserve it for the benefit of the current and future local communities of Australia. The exhibition demonstrates the significance of land as a body of spirituality and indigenous beliefs of the people. The images also tend to present land as an important commodity to the aboriginal people of Pilbara, Peninsula.

Embedded exhibition is composed of significant images and video works which enables audience to spend their leisure time constructively. They view the artistic works of Craig Walsh to enjoy the beauty of nature. The exhibition brings landscape of Pilbara and Murujuga aboriginal people close to many Australians who may not reach Pilbara to see the natural landscape and the people (Barkley et al., 2013). The artworks in the exhibition also enable people visiting it to understand and appreciate the culture of the aboriginal people of Murujuga. This enhances a good interaction and understanding among the aboriginal people and the non-indigenous people living in the Pilbara region and other regions in Australia. When people see artworks that relate to nature, they normally understand their surrounding or environment better. This understanding of the environment through art allows individuals to appreciate and learn to take care of the environment in order to use it for their benefit.

Embedded exhibition also demonstrates the significance of mining in the lives of people in Australia and to the economy of the country. Through visual presentation, Craig Walsh is able to stress the importance of mining. The exhibition shows various people working in the mining areas, the mining facilities used and the landscape of the area where mining is carried out. It demonstrates the benefits received from mining for the aboriginal people of Pilbara and other residents of the region. Through the exhibition, people learn to appreciate mining as an important economic activity. Video images and photographs of nature and landscape bring the universe to a close view of the audience (Barkley et al., 2013). As a result, people will understand the universe better and they will be able to change their lives positively by making use of natural resources appropriately. Understanding the environment will also enable audience of the exhibition to interact well with the environment. The artworks of Craig Walsh provides a connection between people and their surrounding natural environment; hence enabling the two to interact positively for a good and mutual coexistence among various components of the universe.

  • Negative aspects of the exhibition (limitations/weaknesses)

Even though the artworks in the Embedded are visually attractive and enhance a good understanding of landscape and mining activities of Pilbara and Australia in general, there are some limitations of the exhibition which visitors and curators need to consider. First, the presentation of the images does not give a true reflection of the fascinating images. The exhibition is somehow heavy and static due to the use of descriptive panels without human presentation. Craig Walsh is not available in person to explain and describe some of the artistic images. In the show some people may not be keen interpreters of artistic works. Therefore, it is important for the producer of such images to explain the meaning of the images. Although there is a clear indication of artworks throughout the exhibition, use of moving images makes it difficult for visitors to understand some of the artworks. Furthermore, there are no resources available for visitors to find information related to the images and photographs they find at the exhibition site. This often leaves them unsatisfied with what they see.

Secondly, there is no clear labeling and directions which could guide visitors in the exhibition. For instance, nothing indicates the museum hall that relates to each of the artistic works on display. There is also no education material in the website of the exhibition which can be used to connect with the images or to refer for unclear issues (Art Guide, 2013). The images in the museum mainly spark interest, but fail to disseminate sufficient information.

  1. Conclusion

Embedded: Craig Walsh is one of the current exhibitions in Museum of Contemporary Art. It contains several photographic portraits and moving images of landscape and people of the Murujuga aboriginal community of Pilbara. It also includes images of iron ores and other mining facilities in the area. It connects the people of Pilbara to the environment of the community. Co-curated by Judith Blackall and Robert Leornard, the exhibition has interesting video images and photographic displays which lack enough information to accompany them and to explain further how they are created by Craig Walsh. However, in terms of art for pleasure, images at the exhibition are marvelous, and can communicate a lot even without the information needed to explain how the images were created. Just by the look of the pictures, a true artist can know how they were made, and how they impact on the lives of Australia. Therefore, the exhibition is indeed a good artifacts location where artist students and the general public can go and see how science interplay with arts to provide a clear understanding of human cultures, the natural world, and the universe.


References list

Art Guide (2013). Embedded: Craig Walsh. Accessed October 1, 2013 from   

Museum of Contemporary Arts (2013). Current Exhibitions – Embedded: Craig Walsh. Accessed October 1, 2013 from     works/exhibitions/current-exhibitions/.

Barkley, G., Albert, T., Allas, T., McKenzie, R., Bell, R., Ah, K. V., Robson, M. Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney, N.S.W.). (2013). String theory: Focus on contemporary Australian art.

Sotheby’s Australia Pty. Ltd. (2013). Important Australian art: Auction in Melbourne tuesday 14   May 2013, 6.30 pm. Melbourne, Vic: Sotheby’s Australia.

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