Babies from a variety of ethnic origins, accompanied by camp dogs, follow Aboriginal women down a dirt track into a flat dry landscape. They appear compelled to crawl after the women, imbuing the elders at the heart of Enculturation with an eerie sense of magnetism. Photographed on Country with senior women painted up for ceremony, the narrative traces a journey through the landscape under an opaque and nebulous sky. Children sit amongst the women as they absorb the nuances of Country. In this series Cook evokes the potential for Indigenous cultures, and their learnings over millennia, to shift the concerns of white society toward the balance and harmony integral to the heart of First Nations traditions.
With reverse references to Australia’s Stolen Generations (1910-1970s, and ongoing),[i] Cook’s Enculturation explores difficult territory with a gentleness drawn from the beauty of its aesthetic.
Contemporary child removal practices continue to see a disproportionate number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children raised outside their families.