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An indigenous child watches an elder painting Mother Courage

ACMI Commission: Warwick Thornton

Warwick Thornton’s Mother Courage (2013) is an immersive video and sculptural installation that explores cultural displacement and the tensions between contemporary urban and traditional Indigenous lifestyles.

Like playwright Bertolt Brecht’s leading character in Mother Courage and her Children (1939), the Mother Courage of Thornton’s work lives a nomadic lifestyle – forced out of her community, she travels from gallery to gallery creating and selling paintings from the back of a van.

“I immediately saw a correlation between Brecht’s Mother Courage...and the situation of Indigenous people in Central Australia today,” says Thornton. “There’s a lot of social dysfunction in my community, with people being forced to leave their homes, their families and their friends, to economically survive.”

Mother Courage was commissioned by ACMI and dOCUMENTA (13).

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