Wesley Enoch

Wesley Enoch, Artistic Director, Sydney Festival, Sydney, Australia

Titled The 21st Century Art Museum: Is Context Everything? the CIMAM 2019 Annual Conference took place 15-17 November in Sydney hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia.

Day 1: Friday 15 November
Challenging the Narrative: Indigenous Perspectives


Why So Many Walls?

By the very nature of erecting a museum you are saying what is inside the walls is collectable and what finds itself outside is not. What happens when you accept that art/object is the detritus of culture not the embodiment of it? That the things left behind are a cultural memory of an action, a practice, a ceremony that has been designed to be discarded and disposed of, having fulfilled its purpose, rather than collected to adorn the walls. This is an Indigenous Perspective.

The walls attempt to make things solid and impermeable when a lived culture is malleable and ephemeral. The walls set out to control and protect moments in time so that the future can glimpse the past but they can also hold us back. Museums create anchor points to tie down with a weight something that floats and these anchor points, these fragments of culture we call art/object are meaningless without the song that forged them, the dance that animated them, the story that connected them and the place that created them.

Why so many walls? When maybe what an Indigenous Perspective really asks is where are your middens? The thing where you add your layer in the practice of occupying this place.


Wesley Enoch hails from Minjeribah (Stradbroke Island ) in Queensland and is a proud Noonuccal Nuugi man. He is a writer and director for the stage and joined the Sydney Festival as Artistic Director in 2015. He was creative consultant, segment director and indigenous advisor for the opening and closing ceremonies of Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018; the Artistic Director of Queensland Theatre Company from 2010 – 2015; Associate Artistic Director at Belvoir St Theatre from 2007- 2010; Australia Council Artistic Director for the Australian Delegation to the 2008 Festival of Pacific Arts; director of Opening Ceremony, MY SKIN, MY LIFE for the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne; Artistic Director of Ilbijerri ATSI Theatre Co-op 2003-2006; Resident Director at the Sydney Theatre Company from 2000-2001 and Artistic Director of Kooemba Jdarra Indigenous Performing Arts from 1994-1997.


Enoch's’s recent directing work includes MOTHER COURAGE & HER CHILDREN and HAPPY DAYS. He has a commitment to new work and has directed many world premieres including COUNTRY SONG, HEADFUL OF LOVE, TROLLOP, WALTZING THE WILARRA and BLACK DIGGERS.