Fight or Flight #2 The Near East - Bombs and Oil (Hostile Object)

Accession Number AWM2019.58.2
Collection type Art
Measurement Overall: 157 cm x 153 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description gifted Keffiyeh/Shemag, paper map of The Near East (published by the Serial Map Service 1941) and acrylic on linen mounted in North Stradbroke Island blue gum
Maker Cope, Megan
Place made Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Australia: Queensland, Brisbane, Stradbroke Island
Date made 2018-2019
Conflict Period 2010-2019

Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright


In 2017 the Australian War Memorial commissioned its first female Aboriginal official war artist, Quandamooka woman Megan Cope, to travel to the Middle East to accompany various Defence units participating in Operation Accordion. She was initially sent to the United Arab Emirates, before being attached to Australian Defence Force units in the Middle East. There she recorded and interpreted subjects concerning Australia's contribution to the international effort in the Middle East Region.

Cope's series of works titled 'Flight or fight' was primarily inspired by a ten-hour flight she took over the Middle East. This work uses a green Keffiych (Shemagh); the olive colour is the colour type scarf issued by the Australian Army and was issued by Memorial staff to the artist prior to her deployment. In this painting it becomes part of the landscape which includes the communication symbol for Hostile Object/War Craft over the 1941 map of pipelines and oil fields along with bombs which the artists sees as a hostile object.

Cope connected the Royal Australian Air Force and their mobility by slicing the maps into small squares before fixing them to canvas. In this way her work considers the compactability and portabilty of objects, whilst also encouraging dialogue in considering borders and boundaries, maps as grids, and how we navigate and move through places and geography.

It was important for Cope that her works held a visual connection to the types of maps she had in her school as a child. She said, "Kids today probably won't ever know what those maps look like, but I really wanted my maps to have that weight, and to reflect that time of how we learn about the world ... I've been so challenged by those sorts of maps and that knowledge that was prescribed onto them". Thus, it was important for Cope to present her maps in a similar fashion and she did so by incorporating some of her Country. This particular work is mounted to North Stradbroke Island blue gum.

Cope is part social cartographer, curator, writer and artist. Her site specific sculptural installations, video work and paintings lingers within the dualistic spaces of split heritage and contested land, investigate issues relating to identity, the environment and conflicted personal encounters. Her work explores the myths and methods of colonisation and circumvents hegemonic sovereignty.