Play for Keeps (2021) by Jenna Lee uses a loose-leaf book form to interrogate language, particularly its ability to create euphemisms for the theft and dispossession of Aboriginal culture. Based on a children’s book used for ‘learn to read’ programs titled The Lost? Boomerang, playing cards are adapted to identify 52 words to describe the term ‘lost’ (stolen, archived, copied, collected), which allude to the acquisition of Aboriginal objects by institutions and individuals but also to the wholescale theft of the boomerang motif (so often used on souvenirs). Scathing yet playful, Lee’s use of a book for young readers and the archetypal recreational playing cards lightens her difficult message about the injustices in our shared pasts.
Image: Courtesy of the artist and MARS Gallery.