Yhonnie Scarce: NGV Architecture Commission

Contemporary artist Yhonnie Scarce and Melbourne architecture studio Edition Office have been announced as the winners of the 2019 National Gallery of Victoria Architecture Commission for their scheme titled In Absence. The annual NGV Architecture Commission is an open national competition which invites architects to create a site-specific work of temporary architecture, activating the NGV’s Grollo Equiset Garden. For 2019, architects were encouraged to submit ideas focusing on multidisciplinary thinking, collaboration and audience engagement. Yhonnie Scarce’s and Edition Office’s project In Absence is an architectural installation that invites audiences to better understand the long histories of Indigenous construction, design, industry and agriculture prior to the arrival of Europeans, including the permanent villages and dwellings of many Indigenous communities.

The timber tower conceals two dramatic internal voids adorned with thousands of black glass yams by Yhonnie Scarce, who belongs to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples of South Australia. Scarce said: “This pavilion does not recognise the term ‘Terra Nullius’ – instead it celebrates the structures that were built long before the colonisation of Australia. There were many Aboriginal builders of ‘houses’, aquaculture infrastructure and long-term agriculture that has existed for thousands of years. This commission is an amazing opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the builders of such infrastructure and their enduring legacies.” The NGV Architecture Commission 2019 will be on display at NGV International from November 2019.


LENNOX STACMIACCA MelbourneMCA Roslyn Oxley Gallery IMA