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Multi-media artist, Archie Moore was born in Toowoomba, Queensland, in 1970 and remained in the Darling Downs region until 1989. He was named after Archie Moore, the African American world boxing champion of the 1950s and 1960s. Growing up in rural Queensland taught Moore about racism and the forms it can take; he was often the target of racist taunts in the school playground. This harsh childhood experience led Moore to develop a keen interest in language and how it is constructed, used and valued as a cultural medium.
He completed a Certificate in Art and Design at Gateway TAFE, Eagle Farm, in 1991 and a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Arts at Queensland University of Technology in 1998. With a sound knowledge of the technical aspects of visual art presentation and a curiosity of language, Moore investigated the words used against him as a child in the body of work, Words I Learnt From The English Class (2002). Here Moore employed the words that were used to abuse, attack and insult him racially. For example in the work Onomatopoeia, Moore has painted the word “Boong”, and it appears to vibrate on the canvas. He described this work as a reference to a popular joke told to him during his school days (that 'boong’ is the sound an Aborigine makes when it hits the bull bar of your car). Furthermore the word, he says, describes “the jolt that went through my body when realising the nature of these 'humorous jokes’” (http://www.redbubble.com/people/archiemoore/art/125503-9-onomatopoeia, accessed 19 Sept 2008).
In his work Scripta Continua 1,2,3,4, shown at the State Library of Queensland 2005 exhibition, “CALD“, Moore investigates words that are made up of at least two other words and places laser-cut foam core letters into a sentence with the 'spaces’ removed. The installation reads 'THERAPISTNOWHERETOGETHER BRAINWASHERS’. The work challenges the viewer to make sense of it by spacing the words differently. For example, the work could become 'THERAPISTNOWHERE TO GETHERBRAINWAS HERS’. Of course this newly constructed sentence does not have a clear meaning either; in conversation with the author (January 2009), MCA curator Glenn Barkley agreed that it could be just this effect that Moore is playing with – challenging the viewer to re-write, to re-construct and to come to an understanding at how easily the English language can be manipulated.
Moore’s fascination with the English language and how it has affected him as an Aboriginal man has been developed even further in his 2007 body of work titled Maltheism (which was short-listed in Queensland Art Gallery’s 2008 Xstrata Coal Emerging Indigenous Art Award) in which a series of bibles of various sizes lay open at certain key passages. In doing so, Moore is offering a commentary on the Mission Days that were instrumental to Australia’s colonization. From these pages Moore has constructed miniature churches so that the bibles in fact become sculptural works. In one such work the bible is open at Deuteronomy, where the passage, 'Destruction of Pagans’ is displayed. This passage talks of invasions of other lands, the taking of the new land’s resources, the killing of all the men and of making no treaty with the people. Conceptually Moore is commenting on the destruction of Aboriginal spirituality, ceremony and cultural practices by the government policy of rounding up Aboriginal people and forcing them to live on Christian missions, attend church services and praise an alien god. Of this biblical passage Moore has said that he thought “it was a similar genocidal mindset of the First Fleet and also of the invading Christian nations in the Middle East in more recent times, i.e. the Iraq Wars” (http://www.redbubble.com/people/archiemoore/art/125523-9-maltheism, accessed 19 Sept 2008).
In a 2008 conversation with the author, University of Newcastle academic Dr Romaine Moreton said
'The written word is fundamental to the creation of social space, informing how physical bodies are identified and become identifiable and Moore’s work makes that connection between the written word and the construction of physical space, alluding to the construction of identities.’
Moore was the recipient of the 2001 Anne and Gordon Samstag International Visual Arts Scholarship which enabled him to travel to the Czech Republic to study at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. In 2005 he obtained a residency and exhibition through the NEWflames program at Fireworks Gallery. In 2008 he was a finalist in both the Telstra Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and the Xstrata Coal Emerging Indigenous Art Award at the Gallery of Modern Art, Queensland Art Gallery.
He has exhibited in many group and solo shows including “Nympholepsy – A survey of 'Love’ works”, Palace Gallery, Brisbane (2005); “The Dark and the Light”, Fireworks Gallery (2005); “Crossings: A Gathering of Artists” SomArts Gallery, San Francisco (2005); “Depth of Field” at Ryan Renshaw Gallery (2006); “2008 Biennale of Sydney Online Venue”; “L’Aboriginal Festival de Avignon”, France (2008); and “The Revenge of Genres Contemporary Australian Art” at the Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris (2008).