Anthropocene: Linking past and present to shape a better future

13 February – 15 December 2023

In recent decades there has been increasing awareness and alarm about the consequences of human actions on our collective future. Human-caused extinctions, global warming, sea-level rise, erosion, water depletion and habitat fragmentation threaten not only countless other species but also critical ecosystems that support all human societies. The Anthropocene is the current geological epoch in which humans play a dominant role in shaping the Earth system.

Human societies have existed for hundreds of thousands of years, and experimented with an extraordinary array of subsistence practices, economies and socio-political systems. One of the defining features of our species is our ability to access information about these earlier lifeways and learn from our past. Acting on this information is the key to making informed decisions about our future.

Australia's deep time history is particularly relevant, with First Nations communities prospering in a challenging and climatically changeable continent for tens of thousands of years, including through the climatic extremes of the last ice-age and the subsequent reshaping of Australia as sea levels rose by more than one hundred metres.

This exhibition examines collaborative models of academic research informed by traditional cultural knowledge and led by First Nations communities.

We need to consider the past in order to find sustainable management practices and solutions to the challenges facing society in the Anthropocene world.


Image: Megan Cope, Kinyingarra Guwinyanba, 2022. Photography by Cian Sanders. Courtesy of Megan Cope and Milani Gallery, Meanjin / Brisbane.