The Saturday Paper reviews Sometimes I Miss the Applause by Dean Cross

1 Mar 2022

Dean Cross’s Sometimes I Miss the Applause is a dual-channel video installation that responds to Sidney Nolan’s Self portrait (1943). A pair of identical figures are shown hovering, shuffling and clapping in a desolate community hall, dressed in vernacular Adidas tracksuits masked in a series of painted paper bags while the performer’s hands and gallery walls were stained in red that fills the background of Nolan’s Self portrait.

“Cross draws Modernism into contact with an Indigenous aesthetic. The aforementioned mask prompts Nolan’s most recognizable imagery, a bushranger helmet, colliding with the romanticism of policing Indigenous bodies, carceralism and deaths in custody. Simultaneously, the figure’s red hands recall recent activism, echoing the red handprints that Indigenous activists printed over the walls of Yuendumu Police Station. The concern of Modernist self-portraiture with the inner psyche is becoming a social threat for a “self” that can only be sustained collectively” writes Tristen Harwood.

“With Sometimes I Miss the Applause, the artist of Worimi descent delves into the predicament of assembling an Indigenous aesthetic within the framework of modern and contemporary art without getting locked into either a strictly reactionary or culturally essentialist reclamation, while also negotiating the politics of representation. Cross explores Heide as a site of Australian modernity and millennia of First Nations cultural practice and sits within a wider push for galleries to re-evaluate their colonial histories and criteria.”

Sometimes I Miss the Applause is on display at Heide Museum of Modern Art until 29 May 2022.

Image: Installation view of Sometimes I Miss the Applause, Heide Museum of Modern Art | Photo by Christian Capurro.