|Measurement||Overall: 171 cm x 165 cm|
|Physical description||acrylic on paper Ethnographic map of Eastern Turkey in Asia, Syria and Western Persia on linen, mounted in North Stradbroke Island Cyprus pine|
|Place made||Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Australia: Queensland, Brisbane, Stradbroke Island|
Item copyright: AWM Licensed copyright
Flight or Fight #5 Radar
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. In this work, a radar detection system uses radio waves to determine the range, angle and velocity of objects in the Middle East Region. In this instance, Cope has painted a radar over an ethnographic map of the Middle East to highlight the social and religious complexity of a region often discussed in the media in binary terms. It is a beautiful map of people and place organised by geography, history and time. This map was first published by The Royal Geographic Society in 1910.
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.