Michael Cook was born from an Australian Indigenous father and grew up adopted in a Western environment. The artist’s approach deals with topics such as postcolonial identity, dispossession and displacement, often by reversing perspectives between colonisers and colonised, and by merging history with the imaginary.
The series Broken Dreams, consisting of ten large-format photographs, was produced in 2010, Cook’s first year of artistic practice. In these successive paintings, a young Aboriginal woman imagines herself in the strange clothing of European settlers and their material possessions. Her reflections are curious rather than fearful: do they feel the same as she does? As her journey progresses, she realizes that their culture is not her own. Over time, she sees the impact the new settlers have on her people. With her dreams broken, in despair, she gets rid of her new clothes and returns to her roots to find freedom – the connection to her land.