A new collaborative installation by recent VCA graduates Tony Cran and Brodie Ellis, Under Embargo critically examined the re-emergence of the pirate as a present-day icon of popular culture. Incorporating a billboard-sized painting, wall drawings, installation, and a flotilla of free-standing sculptures, the installation unpicked the history and iconography of piracy and the underlying issues of globalism, capital and freedom which it raises. 

Speculating that the resurgence of interest in piracy suggests a reaction to the homogenising influence of globalisation and capitalism, the artists ask, “In a world where diversity itself is endangered, where do we find the wilderness?” Implying an apocalyptic narrative of environmental disaster, sweatshop labour, data-piracy, resource scarcity, mass-production and satellite surveillance, Under Embargo transported old-world piracy into the ever volatile here and now. 

Tony Cran and Brodie Ellis both graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2005. They have previously collaborated on the installation Half Way at George Paton Gallery, Melbourne 2005; and have exhibited in several solo and group exhibitions across Melbourne, including Blindside; Red Gallery, VCA gallery and in various public spaces around the city.

Supported by the Victorian College of the Arts.