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Jonathan Jones untitled (transcriptions of country)

"I’m curious about how we come to terms with objects that were collected and are now lost to the archive; how these objects can morph into new forms of dialogue, become tools of reciprocity and repatriation within the framework of decolonisation."  – Jonathan Jones


Born 1978 in Sydney (Australia) where he lives and works

untitled (transcriptions of country), Jonathan Jones’ new project, looks into colonial transport, trade and the acclimatisation of Indigenous plants, animals and objects, together with the colonisation of local knowledge. Its source of information is the French expedition to the southern lands led by Captain Nicolas Baudin at the very beginning of the 19th century. Commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte, this was one of the most extensive scientific expeditions ever undertaken in Australia, which brought back to France many artifacts and living elements.

The exhibition takes on multiple elements in order to unfold this complex story, central to the artistic approach being the process of translation. 300 plants, preserved at the National Herbarium in Paris, are reproduced as hand-made embroideries by community members in Sydney. Sculptures, based on traditional Indigenous materials and portraits of Aboriginal people, are displayed on the walls. A soundscape – inspired by a corroboree (an Australian Aboriginal ceremony) as transcribed during the expedition – is broadcast in the space, while a video tells the story of the project and its context. Each body of work highlights how the interpretation and understanding of other cultures can be altered through communication and exchange ; the artist having done extensive research in Australia and France, including the National Museum of Natural History and the Château de Malmaison.

Jonathan Jones is a member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi peoples of south-eastern Australia. He works in a variety of media, creating site specific installations and exploring Indigenous practices, relationships and ideas. His practice is often collaborative and seeks to bring different communities together. His work's underlying concept is the process of mapping or tracing, as well as parallel representation of the traditional and the contemporary via the historic and present-day uses of specific sites and architectures. The artist explores relations between community and individual, personal and public, past and present.

Jonathan Jones’ exhibition untitled (transcriptions of country), his first in Europe, will have a further iteration at the contemporary art center Artspace in Sydney, accompanied by a publication. This exhibition is part of a more general research of the Palais de Tokyo on the Australian art scene. Mel O'Callaghan (2017) and Angelica Mesiti (2019) both had a personal exhibition, after participating in the Do Disturb performance festival. Invitations were also made for group exhibitions and performances (David Griggs and Justin Shoulder in "City Prince/sses" or Madison Bycroft in "Future, Former, Fugitive", 2019) or for projects elsewhere (Mel O'Callaghan, Nuit Blanche, 2016; Dale Harding, 15th Lyon Biennale, 2019). The collective exhibition, public program and publication "Reclaim the Earth", scheduled for the spring 2022, is organized in collaboration with several Australian researchers and artists.


Curators: Daria de Beauvais, Alexie Glass-Kantor, Michelle Newton

Exhibition realized in partnership with Artspace (Sydney)  

In the framework of Australia now France 2021-2022, an initiative of the Australian Government celebrating Australia’s creative excellence, diversity and innovation

This project is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body; by the NSW Government through Create NSW; by the Australian Government through the Australian Cultural Diplomacy Grants Program of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

It is also supported by the City of Sydney and the Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund

The embroideries are the result of a close collaboration with the women’s embroidery groups associated with Information + Cultural Exchange (I.C.E.) and with the Adorned Collective 

This project is supported through Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, University of Technology Sydney

It has relied on the cultural knowledge and guidance of Aunty Julie Freeman

The artist’s preliminary research in France has been supported by Lafayette Anticipations – Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette 


With the support of : 



From 26/11/2021 to 20/02/2022