Mad Wings, a collaboration between Aboriginal artists Maddison Gibbs and Jason Wing, proudly reaffirm that Australia “always was, always will be Aboriginal land”, but on the eve of the opening of their residency at EDGE GreenWay, the shipping container that housed their artwork and 250 Aboriginal flags was stolen.
inSIGHT Lab spoke to Jason Wing and asked him what happened and how he and Maddie are responding to it:
Mad Wings had planned to create a site-responsive work that considered the seemingly invisible layers that exist within Australia’s landscapes, to activate seemingly hidden sites including dual histories and dual perspectives across times.
Media coverage describes this as an ‘alleged’ theft, but in the searing absence of the work, there is no doubt in the artists’ minds that this was a deliberate act. The story of their work has now become the story of Indigenous history, the incident of this theft mirroring the theft of Indigenous culture. And, in turn, this feeds into the narrative the artists have about invisible layers in the fabric of our societies, cultures and landscapes.
There is a sense of exhaustion as you view and participate in the repurposed artwork that Mad Wings is developing. A deeply unsettled sadness and long-worn frustration at colonial Australia’s absence of recognition or meaningful commitment to righting the past and ever-present wrongs. The physical tropes of Mad Wings’ artwork have been stolen. Yet beyond the epic and layered symbolism within this is a determination to push on, make the best of the situation, and educate and energise this discussion.
Always was, always will be.