Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, 2013
Dark Manners explores the medical frontier from a time when a growing interest in the natural sciences and evolutionary theory led to a dark and complex trade between colonial Australia and the centre of empire. It delves into the murky morality of respectable men of medicine in nineteenth century Australia and Britain who procured and donated human and animal remains for museum collections. Dark Manners seeks to embody the notion of Australia as a nebulous laboratory at the far edges of empire where gentlemen scientists became the shadowy subjects of their own curious predilection for collecting. The material hybridity in Dark Manners seeks to create an uneasy tension between the unspoken interiority of polite society and the duplicity of dark deeds committed ‘in the interests of human kind’ which continue to haunt the present.
Dark Manners by Sue Kneebone