Visit ‘Tanderrum’ – a new work by Taungurung artist Steven Rhall in Edinburgh Gardens

Steven Rhall: Tanderrum (Inverted Base) 2022
Stainless steel and aluminum with Corten paint finish 1745h x 1065w x 1065d mm

Tanderrum (inverted plinth) responds to the land of Wurundjeri country on which it stands, in an area now known as Edinburgh Gardens.

Inspired by Piero Manzoni’s Pedestal of the World (1961), the artwork’s relationship to the plinth and surrounding gardens subverts the colonial history and associated power structures inherent in monuments and memorials. By returning the plinth on itself, Rhall upsets the authoritative function of the existing pedestal, initially designed to support a statue of Queen Victoria, while favoring the “Country” at the base of the plinth.

Connecting the sculpture to the base, four cylindrical supports physically connect the two objects and act as a conduit for their relationship. The gesture of shrinking and inverting the colonial pedestal undermines all that it stands for – Western modes of marking, memorialization and attribution of value. Instead, it directs viewers’ attention to the land below and the Aboriginal land on which it was set.

The monumental vertical form of the works strongly affirms the artist’s intention and articulates the identity, resilience, strength, self-determination and connection to country and land of First Nations peoples. The artwork allows First Peoples and the wider community to come together on Wurundjeri country, encouraging dialogue around the history of “site” and place.

The ocher color of the main surface of the work symbolizes the earth. Granite and gilded gold panels on either side directly reference the geology of southeastern Australia. The concentric diamonds are designs that represent Aboriginal cultural practices in southeastern Australia. The holes at the top are a nod to Waa the Crow and introduce a post from which Waa watches over Country. In Aboriginal culture, the crow or raven is an ancestral spirit known for its intelligence and cunning nature. He is also a trickster, often carrying knowledge of many lifetimes. Finally, black, yellow and red accents honor the Indigenous flag as a unifying symbol of Indigenous peoples.

Tanderrum (inverted plinth) by Steven Rhall is presented as part of the Edinburgh Gardens Plinth programme.

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