– Highlights


Primavera 2017

23 Aug - 19 Nov


Hilarie Mais

23 Aug - 19 Nov

Mca Collection

MCA Collection: Today Tomorrow Yesterday

01 Sep - 31 Aug

– Learning Events


2017 Lloyd Rees Lecture

22 Nov, 6.00pm, Level 2: Veolia Lecture Theatre


Art Safari

24 Nov, 1.00pm, Level 3: National Centre for Creative Learning


Artbar November 2017

24 Nov, 7.00pm, MCA

– News from inside the MCA

The Importance of Laughter

We sat down with laughter connoisseur Shari Coventry from Sydney Laughter to discover the truth about laughter and why we need it ahead of this month’s Laughter Sessions. more

Coming up in 2018…

Next year is one of the most exciting and diverse seasons yet. Find out what’s on. more

Six Films that Changed My Life (for better or worse): Antenna's Rich Welch

To pave the way for the soon-to-come cinema binge at Antenna Film Festival,Co-Director Rich Welch shared a few of his life changing films. more

– Spotlights from the collection online

MCA Collection

Works from the MCA Collection

Collection Artist Interviews

Watch our latest interviews in the MCA Video Portal

Joint acquisitions by MCA and Tate

The Program promotes Australian art globally, helping Australian artists reach new audiences.

Gordon Bennett

Untitled (dismay, displace, disperse, dispirit, display, dismiss)  1989

oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas

6 parts: each 30 × 30cm

Musuem of Contemporary Art, gift of Doug Hall, 1993


About the Artwork

Gordon Bennett’s work Untitled (dismay, displace, disperse, dispirit, display, dismiss) uses word and image to explore language as a tool with which the colonisers of Australia subjugated the country’s original inhabitants. Viewing the work at the MCA, near the site of the landing of the First Fleet, gives it even greater resonance, showing as it does the process of displacement and dislocation that followed the arrival of the ships in Sydney Cove. 

Bennett has combined six key scenes in the process of colonisation – the arrival of the fleet, the raising of the Union Jack, the murder, imprisonment and demoralising of Aboriginal people – with stencilled words that stamp the brutality of that process. Using a palette that successively darkens from white to black, he tracks the dismay of Aboriginal people at the invasion of their land to their dismissal as inhabitants of it, using the visual and verbal language of oppression that was integral to the colonising process. To ‘dis’ something in English means not only to disrespect; when used as a prefix it reverses and undoes the meaning of the root word, and can thus ‘refer to negation, opposition, separation, or deprivation’.[1] The repetition of ‘dis’ in each word in Untitled (dismay, displace, disperse, dispirit, display, dismiss) sets up a rhythm; a beat which marches in grim lockstep with each image to its termination in the empty black square of ‘dismiss’.

[1] Nicholas Zurbrugg, Visual Poetics: Concrete Poetry and its Contexts, Museum of Contemporary Art, Brisbane, 1989.

I wish to reinstate a sense of aboriginal people within the culturally dominant system of representation as human beings, rather than a visual representation that signifies the ‘primitive’, the ‘noble savage’, or some other european construct associated with black skin.

Gordon Bennett, 1993

Gordon Bennett

– About the artist

Born 1955, Monto, Queensland. Lived and worked Brisbane. Died 2014, Brisbane.

Born in 1955 in Monto, Queensland, Gordon Bennett lived and worked in Brisbane before his unexpected death in 2014. His bold and humane art challenged racial stereotypes and provoked critical reflection on Australia’s official history and national identity. Bennett was one of Australia’s most significant and critically engaged contemporary artists, addressing issues relating to the role of language and systems of thought in forging identity. He rejected racial stereotypes and freed himself from being categorised as an Indigenous artist by creating an ongoing pop art inspired alter ego, John Citizen, who he considered to be ‘an abstraction of the Australian Mr Average, the Australian Everyman’. In the late 1990s Bennett began a dialogue with the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, a New York artist who shared with Bennett a similar western cultural tradition and an obsession with drawing, semiotics and visual language.

Throughout his career, Gordon Bennett achieved national and international recognition, with representation in biennales in Sydney (1992, 2000, 2008), Venice (1995), Kwangju (2000), Shanghai (2000), Prague (2005) and Berlin (2014), as well as the prestigious Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany (2012). His work has been included in major exhibitions in the Netherlands, USA, UK, Germany, Austria, Prague, Italy, Denmark, Canada, South Africa and Japan. His work is collected widely and is represented in major public art collections in Australia. The first monograph on his work, The Art of Gordon Bennett by Ian McLean, was published in 1997. A major survey of his practice toured Australian state galleries in 2007–09.

Learn more
– Other collection works by the artist

– View also


Related Exhibitions

In the Shop