Objects testify is a community-engaged program exploring the colonial legacies of Australia's built environment and its ongoing impact on First Nations communities, led by Wiradjuri anti-disciplinary artist Joel Sherwood Spring.
Objects testify provokes an understanding of architecture as not just the built environment, but the digital and social technologies that propel extraction of raw material from the mine to the materiality of social life. Sherwood Spring describes ‘digging’ as the foremost colonial technique that makes all other colonial forms of exploitation possible.
The program features Joel Sherwood Spring’s video work Diggermode (2022) alongside loaned objects from public and private collections, including the Powerhouse Collection, that seek to illustrate the technologies of extraction and the ideologies propelling extractive practices.
Diggermode questions the social and environmental ethics of technology used in constructing, storing and sharing images, whether in surveillance databases, museum archives or online. The work considers the problems arising from new technologies giving open access to cultural belongings and documentation of Indigenous peoples.
A program of closed and public conversations between First Nations community, scholars, artists, architects and designers will explore key themes of Diggermode and consider new forms of testimony.
Joel Sherwood Spring is a Wiradjuri anti-disciplinary artist and Powerhouse design resident. He works collaboratively on projects that sit outside established notions of contemporary art and architecture, aiming to transfigure spatial dynamics of power through discourse, teaching, art, design and architectural practice. Sherwood Spring focuses on examining the contested narratives of Australia’s urban cultural and Indigenous history in the face of ongoing colonisation. He is a co-director of Future Method Studio, a collaborative interdisciplinary practice working across architecture, installation and speculative projects. He guest-edited Runway Journal’s 44th issue TIME in 2021 and was a commissioned artist for Ceremony, the 4th National Indigenous Art Triennial in 2022 at the National Gallery of Australia.