Segregation - The Tram

Michael Cook, Bidjara / Australian, born 1968



Digital print on paper

Overall: 59 1/16 × 21 5/8 in. (150 × 55 cm)

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth: Gift of Will Owen and Harvey Wagner



Place Made: Australia, Oceania


21st century

Object Name


Research Area


Not on view


Michael Cook was adopted at an early age, and his non-Indigenous adoptive mother was active in the fight for Aboriginal rights in the 1970s. Although Cook grew up outside of his Bidjara community, his mother made sure he maintained relationships there. In Segregation, Cook draws on stories his mother told him about her experiences as a young person with her Indigenous friend Francis to address the history and ongoing legacy of discriminatory policies in Australia.

The leading tram is an old Brisbane tram from the seventies, very similar to one I played in as a kid. The rear tram’s passengers include my mum and Francis. Mum is the only non- Indigenous person in the second tram; many white Australians knew that Aboriginals were unfairly treated, and Mum represents them.

"Why does today’s society expect Aboriginal people to fit into the mainstream when their mothers and grandmothers experienced such profound discrimination? The younger generations in Australia don’t think about our history when they say that Aboriginal people are afforded the same opportunities as everyone else." —Michael Cook

From the 2020 exhibition Shifting the Lens: Contemporary Indigenous Australian Photography, curated by Jami C. Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art

Course History

ANTH 3.01, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Fall 2019

ANTH 3.02, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Fall 2019

Exhibition History

Shifting the Lens: Contemporary Indigenous Australian Photography, Luise and Morton Kaish Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, February 15–June 21, 2020.


Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Bowen Hills, Queensland, Australia; sold to Will Owen (1952-2015) and Harvey Wagner (1931-2017), Chapel Hill, North Carolina, August 23, 2012; given to present collection, 2014.

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