Friday, 25 May 2018

Jenny Pollak

13 May - 16 June      Dictionary of Love and Loss

Link to artist's website

Jenny Pollak. Dictionary of Love and Loss, 2018. On view at 38 Botany Road, Waterloo.


Jenny Pollak’s work, Dictionary of Love and Loss is about language. The Dharug language of the indigenous inhabitants of the Sydney basin, which includes the lower reaches of the Hawkesbury River where Jenny lives.

Chillingly, the absence of that language along the banks of the Hawkesbury recalls Kate Grenville’s colonial history, The Secret River and the TV series of the same name that documents the xenophobic slaughter of the Dharug speakers.

Those people live in a way in the bones scattered across Pollak’s chairs each marked in language as a family group, mother, father, daughter, son. They live as a lament in a world that progresses inexorably towards a utopian global homogenization.

The uniformity of material satisfaction comes with it’s own xenophobia that silences the other as effectively as the Dharug speakers were slaughtered two centuries ago. Our bones might be added to Pollak’s chairs and shrouded there in a mist of language that speaks only of this place, Dharug.

Language is the tool of colonization. It’s the open door into our brains where the work of ours soon to be masters is completed. But while Dharug survives, and we are thinking of it now and in defiance perhaps, it permits a love of our land.

Tony Twigg

At the mouth of the Hawkesbury river, north of Sydney, lies a body of water called Broken Bay. Although I have often wondered what this bay was called by the original inhabitants of this country I think the name well reflects the violent history that took place following the invasion of these lands by the British in 1788.

The four chairs in this installation represent a family unit: mother  father  daughter  son:   enale  enalgun  beung  niae
Images of bones superimposed on the front of the chairs are superimposed with the very first map of the area to be made by the British after the arrival of the First Fleet and are a metaphor for connection to place. 

The words that form a screen between the viewer and the chairs are from a word list of the language spoken by the original custodians and inhabitants of this land.

Jenny Pollak