Flight or Fight #7 The Near and Middle East with International Borders (Mt Sinjar)

Accession Number AWM2019.58.7
Collection type Art
Measurement 153 x 165 cm
Object type Painting
Physical description Acrylic on paper map of The Near and Middle East (published by the War Office 1941) on linen mounted in North Stradbroke Island Blue Gum
Maker Cope, Megan
Place made Australia: Queensland, Brisbane, Stradbroke Island
Date made 2018-2019
Conflict Afghanistan, 2001-2021
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. Cope wanted to create works that made a visual connection to the types of maps that she saw at 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". The works are mounted with timber supports at top and bottom as school room maps used to be, this also meant she could incorporate some of her Country by using timber from Minjerribah (North Stradbroke Island). This work is mounted in North Stradbroke Island blue gum.

The KC-30 aircraft in which Cope was a passenger flew over Mount Sinjar, a very distinct landmark and geographical formation close to three international borders, shown on the gridded map on the verso of this double-sided painting. The symbols on the front of the painting are intended as a map of the weather that day: stable, warm front, dust, haze, and veil of cirrostratus cloud covering. Even with the cloud cover and low visibility that day, Mount Sinjar was clearly visible.

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.