Cognitive Dissonance #2

Registration Number
Type of Object
Acrylic on cotton and wool
When Made
Public Description: 

Steaphan Paton found this traditional tapestry (maker unknown) and actively intervened in its aesthetic and meaning by stitching in his own hand. His interventions are striking; they seek to bring to life the realities of the impact of colonialism on the first nation's peoples and the fact there were battles between the original custodians of the land and white settlers. This work was acquired following its inclusion in the exhibition ‘Re-visioning Histories’, curated by Yhonnie Scarce and Claire Watson.

Steaphan Paton is a member of the Gunaikurnai and Monero Nations. His work explores colonialism, tradition and concepts of race and conflict. Influenced by his home country, Gippsland and his experiences, Paton uses painting, sculpture, installation and video to articulate his worldview. In 2016 Paton completed a Master of Contemporary Art from the VCA. His work is held in many public and private collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Gallery of Australia, the Melbourne Museum and the Brooklyn Art Library in New York.

Makers Statement: 
Cognitive dissonance is a theory in psychology described by Leon Festinger (1957) whereby the human mind seeks to understand the world and ourselves in it by a state of cognitive consonance, that is harmony. When new information is presented that is conflicting with the existing beliefs, the mind goes into a state of cognitive dissonance. People usually avoid the state of cognitive dissonance usually by altering, ignoring or manipulating the conflicting information to fit within or be justified by their existing beliefs. There are still many Australians who believe that the continent of Australia was 'settled' peacefully or that a majority of the Australian continent was 'unsettled'. And that Captain Cook 'discovered Australia'. This was and absolutely is not the case. There was conflict on this landmass, there were battles, and there were wars. 'Australia' was invaded by the British. All of the Australian continent was and still is owned by the Peoples and Nations who were here first. Cognitive dissonance #2 is part of a larger series that seeks to provoke the audience into a state of cognitive dissonance. Thereby becoming aware of themselves as the constant coloniser and oppressor. To disrupt the ideallic paradise and false harmony most 'Australians' live in and asks them to dispose of their Britishness.