More Information About the Artwork

Inert State 2022 by Kamilaroi/Bigambul artist Archie Moore presents 200 coroners’ reports into Indigenous deaths in custody from across the country. Developed around the 30th anniversary of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody 1987–91, this highly considered installation evokes the tension between the mass of bureaucratic records and the tragedy of individual loss.

The reports date from 2008 onwards: the year of then–Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s Apology to Stolen Generations. Each report represents a single child’s or adult’s life and, out of respect, their names and case file numbers have been redacted. When a report is not publicly available or is incomplete, a blank document is substituted in its place. The combined volume of floating data allows us to visualise the vast and growing scale of Indigenous Australian peoples’ deaths in custody.

Inert State draws attention to the fact that these tragic deaths in custody are still ongoing. Moore’s installation functions as a temporary memorial, cultivating awareness around the need for institutional change.

Questions & Answers

Where did the reports come from?

The reports are publicly available via the relevant state’s Coroners Court, without names redacted. They were also collated and made accessible by The Guardian as part of an investigative series on Indigenous deaths in custody which began in 2018.

If a family member objects to a loved one’s inquest being featured in the installation, what will you do?

The Gallery welcomes dialogue with the families of those involved and will remove specific documents from the installation on the request of a family member and replace it with a blank document.

Did the artist or gallery consult with the families of those who died in custody?

No, due to the large number of individuals and families connected to these tragedies, it was not possible to consult individually with the families of those mentioned in the coronial inquests. This project is supported by the Gallery’s Indigenous Advisory Panel, who acknowledge the pain and suffering caused by these tragedies. They understand the sensitivities in displaying the reports, even when redacted for privacy. However, they also support the artists intention of creating a temporary memorial and bringing attention to this injustice being faced by Indigenous communities across the country.

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