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Michael Riley: Flyblown

Seven colour

Michael Riley
Flyblown, 1998
Murray Art Museum Albury, 2020
Photo by Jeremy Weihrauch,

Murray Art Museum Albury was very proud to exhibit the acquired photographic series, Flyblown by celebrated Kamilaroi / Wiradjuri artist, Michael Riley.

The nine images in Flyblown presented an enigmatically powerful vision of the Australian landscape and the impacts of colonisation upon it and its first peoples. In moving between images of sky, rushes, water, cracked red earth, a dead galah, and a near-omnipresent Christian cross, Riley evoked a narrative of beauty, dispossession and death, resilience and sovereignty. In the twenty years since the series was first shown, Flyblown has presented an articulation of Indigenous experience of Australia that holds as great an importance now as it did in 1998.

Presented in conjunction with Flyblown, was Riley’s film Empire (1997).

Produced at the same time as Flyblown, Empire presented a similar evocative narrative through the language of cinema. Empire stood as a vital marker of individual and cultural experience in a medium that has for decades inscribed so much of this country’s collective mythology. Flyblown and Empire spoke in the same visual language to an overlapping set of ideas.

These works were shown alongside a collection of Riley's documentary films, which alluded to the great depth of Riley's artistic output. Together, the presentation seeked to celebrate a voice that is firmly embedded in this country's cultural psyche.

Michael Riley

Flyblown, 1998
Installation view, 2020
Photo by Jeremy Weihrauch