More from this Issue
Photography with Intent
Various indigenous artists began to use photography to express ideas about their social and political position in the 1980s; the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations were a strong catalyst. Formerly they were always on the other side of the lens, as anthropological subjects. The exception was Mervyn Bishop, employed as a press photographer in the 1960s, and pioneer in the medium and role model for younger artists including Fiona Foley, Ricky Maynard, Peter McKenzie.
Polemic: From the 21st Century and Through the Telescope
Polemic: There has been a paradigm shift in Australia with the development of Aboriginal art, which may be as consequential as that of the Impressionists. Over the last 30 years Aboriginal artists have been making their voices heard and now make up at least 25% of the country's working visual artists though they are only 1.7% of the population. Their art will go down in history as providing new perspectives with which to view the world
Boomalli: Fact or Fantasy: you decide!
Boomalli, founded in 1987, enters an unlikely future where anonymous benefactors help them to buy premises in an inner city suburb, to employ curators and become independent of funding bodies. Tax-free havens are set up for indigenous artists in NSW and Boomalli members exhibit regularly at MOMA in New York.
Tandanya: One City and a Festival
3SPACE -C21st Indigenous Explorers was an exhibition by Darryl Pfitzner Millika, Mark Blackman and David Pearce for the 2000 Adelaide Festival. In common is their shared history as contemporary indigenous artists in Adelaide, the city which had the first indigenous art centre Tandanya, a powerful catalyst for many enterprises which without it would not have been so well presented or widely seen.
A tribute to the Western Australian artist Queenie McKenzie who died in 1998. She lived her whole life in the Texas Downs area and before taking up painting in old age she worked on the cattle station there and was a stalwart supporter of 'women's law business' and language. She was a confident and prolific painter mostly of her country but sometimes of social topics. When her work was recognised by the art market she shared her material success generously with her adopted family.
Political Theatre in Beyond the Pale
The Adelaide Biennial of Australian Artin 2000 was a survey of new indigenous art titled Beyond the Pale. This attempt to show the best of new work was staged as a series of rooms each with a different mood from baskets and shimmering paintings to rooms of confrontation where works invited viewers to be shocked by figures of authority seen in very unflattering mode.
Mapping Our Countries was an exhibition at the short-lived Djamu Gallery in Sydney, curated by artist Judy Watson and archaeologist Dr Paul Ta'on. They collected objects and works of art to illustrate how they relate to the idea of mapping land or sea. Mapping is done for a huge variety of reasons, for exploiting resources, for proving theories, for simply finding one's way.
Remote Area Computer Art: Multi-Media Talent Emerges in Yuendumu
Donovan Rice is a young Warlpiri man who has virtually taught himself to make computer art in the remote community of Yuendumu. He is making digital images and animations which relate to his own cultural situation against the backdrop of a chronically disfunctional society. He works under the aegis of Warlpiri Media, a community-run media resource centre and TV production house.
Judy Watson's etched zinc wall at Bunjilaka
Queensland artist Judy Watson spent three months in Melbourne on a commission for a zinc wall around 50 metres long for the Bunjilaka gallery at the new Museum Melbourne. Watson used motifs relating to Aboriginal material culture in the etched panels of this work.
Challenging boundaries: Indigenous Art in Three Dimensions
Recent Indigenous 3-D work is regarded as both art and craft. The materials range from shell and rushes to scrap steel, grass, ceramic, glass and bull kelp; the works may be vessels, installations, necklaces, small figures etc. The works often contain explicit references to cultural or historical truths eg the figures by WA artist Joyce Winsley which recall characters from her youth in the country, or Lola Greeno's water containers made in the traditional way from bull kelp .
Emily Kame Kngwarray
A tribute to Emily Kame Kngwarray the celebrated painter from Sandover near the central desert community of Utopia, who died in 1996 after a meteoric career during which she produced 3,000 works in 8 years. Although her concern was to paint and thus protect her country (her main subject was the pencil yam after the seeds and flowers of which - kam - she was named) she was acclaimed by some as a major abstract painter of the 20th century. She won a major creative fellowship and was posthumously shown at the Venice Biennale.