emma buswell

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The Sometimes Colourful Fate of Contemporary Nuggets is an exhibition by Emma Buswell and Jess Day that was first staged at FirstDraft Gallery in Sydney in early 2017 and later re-presented at Polizia in Fremantle.

Buswell and Day Investigations invite you to peruse the facts, take part in new fictions and unravel the litany of lies which surrounds one of Western Australia’s most notorious criminal investigations.

This exhibition explores fiction and local folklore as tools for the construction of new histories. As contemporary artists operating from Australia’s geographical extreme of the West, Emma Buswell and Jess Day focus on the generative influence of narrative regarding understandings of landscape as articulated through cinema and literature. Producing sculptural responses to cinematic and narrative icons of place, both artists create an environment in which ideas of established fact and popular fictions interplay. The Sometimes Colourful Fate of Contemporary Nuggets focuses on the events of 1980, wherein; a golden nugget was created in the backyard of three Perth brothers that would later become the center of one of Western Australia’s most notorious ongoing crime investigations; The Perth Mint Swindle. In their own investigation of these events, the artists craft objects that describe pop-cultural ideas of place, sourced from fiction, factual analysis and local myth.

In 1980 Western Australia’s most notorious golden nugget was fabricated in the garage of the Mickelberg Brothers in an attempt to advertise their ‘from the air’ light-craft prospecting business. More convincing than they ever imagined, the quickly notorious nugget was purchased by local philanthropist Alan Bond for $350 000, more than twice its actual worth. Still surrounded by a multitude of unanswered questions, the Mickelberg tale acts as a component of an ongoing world building by Buswell and Day in which fiction and fact become generative tools for rupturing linear established histories and modes of inquiry.

Buswell and Day re-examine this infamous tale through the aesthetics of true crime documentaries and souvenir culture, creating sculptural objects that operate as stages of an ongoing investigation in which the viewer is encouraged to take part. Combining contemporary Australian vernacular, endemic pop-culture and a systematic line of enquiry, works in this exhibition collapse distinctions between legend and truth-telling and take up residence in the shady grey area in between.
Polizia media release