Across Australia, Artists are Disrupting the Colonial Mindset – 在澳大利亚各地,艺术家正在扰乱殖民思想。

In the Australian art world, ‘decolonization’ has become a buzzword in academia, galleries and museums, yet our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists have been calling for decolonization and asserting sovereignty for decades. The process of decolonization requires ongoing work and our peoples have created generational legacies of storytelling about surviving colonization through art, theatre, literature and community activism. Sovereignty is central to the identity and well-being of Indigenous peoples in our fight for justice. The arts are an accessible and engaging way of discussing these complex issues in a country where white colonial and patriarchal narratives dominate public spaces. In recent years, a social-media revolution has been mobilized by Indigenous scholars, artists and activists who descend from a lineage of Aboriginal resistance through letter- and petition-writing. There is also an emerging Aboriginal podcast culture: Wild Black Women, for example – hosted by the academic Dr Chelsea Bond and the comedy writer Angelina Hurley – is a sharply funny and politically astute programme that takes racism, whiteness and the patriarchy to task.


Across Australia, Artists are Disrupting the Colonial Mindset - 在澳大利亚各地,艺术家正在扰乱殖民思想。

Welcome to Country, smoking ceremory performed by Uncle Jimmy Smith, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 21st Biennale of Sydney preview, 2018. Courtesy: Biennale of Sydney; photograph Levon Baird

A new wave of Indigenous artist and activist collectives has emerged in Melbourne, including Real Blak Tingz, This Mob and Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR). Australia Day is celebrated on 26 January, but to Indigenous Australians it’s known as Invasion Day, since it commemorates the landing, in 1788, of the first fleet of British ships and the declaration of British sovereignty over Aboriginal lands. This year, WAR organized a march through Melbourne, which attracted 60,000 people, demanding that Australia Day be abolished. (Some media reports confused this with other demands that the date be changed to a more inclusive day.) The protests also marked the 80th anniversary of the meeting of Aboriginal leaders in Sydney to request a national Day of Mourning in acknowledgement of the loss of Aboriginal lives during the country’s colonization and to speak out against their ongoing mistreatment. WAR have also created iconic protest banners that call for decolonization, land rights and the rights of Aboriginal children and women. (The banners were featured in ‘Sovereignty’, the exhibition  I curated in 2016 at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne.) The initiative of Aboriginal women is prominent in this movement; Aboriginal matriarchy is a driving cultural force.


Across Australia, Artists are Disrupting the Colonial Mindset - 在澳大利亚各地,艺术家正在扰乱殖民思想。

Real Blak Tingz (Gabi Briggs and Arika Waulu), Gwen Brooke, 2017, giclée print, 119 x 84 cm. Courtesy: the artists and Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne

Some arts organizations, art schools and independent galleries are attempting to decolonize their spaces in various ways. The first step is usually to honour the Aboriginal  peoples who are the original owners of Country (land/s) either through spoken acknowledgments at exhibition openings, by installing plaques that name the traditional lands a building is constructed on, or by inviting Elders from traditional owner groups to conduct Welcome to Country ceremonies and to speak. These acknowledgments might also appear on gallery websites and in catalogues or other publications. Decolonization also calls for Aboriginal artists to remind the public that they are continuing to resist colonization and racism by speaking about trans-generational traumas, rebuking colonial narratives in public spaces and addressing institutional whiteness and privileges.

Other inclusive practices include inviting Indigenous artists, curators, writers and activists to join museum boards, speak at events and write for publications. Recently, for example, the art magazine un Projects published two issues edited by Indigenous writers and the not-for-profit publishing organization The Lifted Brow launched an  upcoming all-black women’s edition. This work is crucial in Australia, a country whose mainstream media is still dominated by white representation. Take, for example, the immensely popular television show Neighbours, which has been on air since 1985 and still prevails with its vanilla version of suburbia: an area that, in reality, was founded on the dispossession of Aboriginal peoples and which is home to generations of migrants and people of colour. Non-white voices and faces are usually only seen and heard on non-profit broadcasters, such as National Indigenous Television, the Special Broadcasting Service and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

In many galleries and museums, the majority of senior curatorial roles are held by non-Indigenous people. This has led to calls for a decentring of whiteness, similar to the Decolonize This Place movement in the US. In Melbourne, where I live, many artists and collectives work independently of mainstream galleries. Organizations such as the Footscray Community Arts Centre, which was established in 1974, have now had ten years of Indigenous-led programming and projects.


Across Australia, Artists are Disrupting the Colonial Mindset - 在澳大利亚各地,艺术家正在扰乱殖民思想。

Dale Harding, Wall Composition in Bimbird and Reckitt’s Blue, 2018, installation view at Tate Liverpool, Liverpool Biennial. Courtesy: the artist, Liverpool Biennial and Milani Gallery, Brisbane; photograph: Thierry Bal 

Asserting sovereignty and self-determination can also be described as ‘non-colonial’, a term coined by the Indigenous Métis artist and scholar from Canada David Garneau, who speaks of creating a ‘non-colonial trophy keeping place’ by transforming museum collections with Indigenous communities, not on our behalf, and constructing non-colonial spaces within museums.1 This was achieved in 2013 with the redevelopment of the Melbourne Museum’s First Peoples Gallery as the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre by Indigenous curators and community members. Earlier this year, Museums Victoria, which runs the Melbourne Museum, appointed Genevieve Grieves as the first Indigenous head of First Peoples Collections in its 164-year history.

Contemporary political Aboriginal art is prolific and draws on more than 60,000 years of life and culture. In an article published in June in Artlink, Clothilde Bullen – the Indigenous curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collections and Exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney – described decolonization as a contemporary process by which First Nations peoples ‘reframe their own structures of thought, understand the history of their colonization and re-invigorate tradition, language and cultural values and the simultaneous consideration of a new way of walking through the world’. Some good examples of this approach include the disruptive and poetic performances Bound and Unbound: Sovereign Acts (Act 1) and (Act 2) (2015) by Unbound Collective, which took place in the colonial precinct of the state gallery, library and museum in Adelaide in South Australia. (The collective comprises four Aboriginal women: Ali Gumillya Baker, Faye Rosas Blanch, Natalie Harkin and Simone Ulalka Tur.) In Melbourne, Vicki Couzens and Maree Clarke are senior Aboriginal women revitalizing traditional cultural practices, such as remaking possum-skin cloaks and creating  memorials to honour lost Aboriginal lives. Brisbane-based Archie Moore creates immersive, sensorial works that  invoke childhood experiences of black life as living memorials. Also in Brisbane, Dale Harding’s work pays homage to Aboriginal women’s labour through subversive craft and installation work taught to him by family members. His installations speak of familial knowledge of place and history across his Ancestral lands. (His work was included in the Liverpool Biennial in the UK earlier this year.)


Across Australia, Artists are Disrupting the Colonial Mindset - 在澳大利亚各地,艺术家正在扰乱殖民思想。

Gordon Hookey, Day of Mourning, 1997, mixed-media banner, 70 x 120 cm (approx.). Courtesy: the artist, National Museum of Australia, Canberra and Milani Gallery, Brisbane

There are also practitioners from the Pacific diaspora who are contributing to the complexity of this debate, including curator Léuli Eshraghi and artist Lisa Hilli as well as several white Australian artists. Eshraghi and Hilli are critically self-aware of their viewpoints as settlers who are also Indigenous. Their work attempts to make sense of their place on unceded, stolen lands and to create spaces of contestation and resistance. Megan Evans’s self-reflective work concerning her white historical privilege emerges from her collaborations with Aboriginal artists such as Peter Waples-Crowe. Their 2016 exhibition ‘Squatters and Savages’ used humour and subversion to reflect upon the violence of the colonial frontier. 

The white feminist female collective Soda_Jerk’s Terror Nullius (2018) is a 55-minute film that collages iconic scenes from Australian cinema into a critique of white nationalism. It created controversy for its funders, the Ian Potter Foundation, which withdrew promotional support of the film just before its release, deeming it ‘un-Australian’ and ‘a very controversial work of art’. The artists (Sydney-based siblings Dan and Dominique Angeloro) told The Guardian in March that ‘if “very controversial” is another way of saying that the work is willing to start uncomfortable conversations, then we’ll happily wear it.’

Aboriginal art is a force that speaks back and blak – a phrase coined in 1991 by the artist Destiny Deacon – to white Australian narratives about history and identity.  It shares the lived experiences of Indigenous artists who resist the ongoing colonial project with acts of disruption to a white-dominated public discourse. As Yorta Yorta curator, Kimberley Moulton, states: ‘There is strength in challenging the status quo, rejecting the pattern that our art, bodies and culture are only noticed when recognized by the white centre. We do not need this: our First Peoples’ ways  of being and understanding surpass this. And we do not need to be defined within this canon as we can never fit within something that is constructed from our exclusion.’2

1. David Garneau, ‘From Colonial Trophy Case to Non-Colonial Keeping House’, Museums Australasia Conference, 16 May 2016
2. Kimberley Moulton, ‘Sovereign Art and the Colonial Canon: Are We Lost Until We Are Found?’ Sovereignty, 1995, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne, p. 31 

Published in frieze, issue 199, November/December 2018, with the title ‘Work to Be Done’.

Main image: Soda_Jerk, Terror Nullius, 2018, film still. Courtesy: the artists and ACMI, Melbourne

Paola Balla

Paola Balla is an artist, curator, academic and cultural producer. She is from the Wemba-Wemba & Gunditjmara, Aboriginal Peoples from South East Australia. 

Issue 199

First published in Issue 199

November - December 2018

Features /

Decolonizing Culture
Paolo Balla
Destiny Deacon
Megan Evans
Art and Politics
Aboriginal Art
Unbound Collective
First Nations People
Real Blak Tingz

在澳大利亚艺术界,“非殖民化”已经成为学术界、美术馆和博物馆的一个时髦词,然而几十年来,我们的土著和托雷斯海峡岛民艺术家们一直呼吁非殖民化和维护主权。非殖民化进程需要不断努力,我们各国人民通过艺术、戏剧、文学和社区活动创造了一代又一代的传奇故事,讲述殖民地幸存下来的故事。主权是我们争取正义的原住民的身份和福祉的核心。在一个白人殖民主义和父权主义叙事占据公共空间的国家,艺术是讨论这些复杂问题的一种容易接近和吸引人的方式。近年来,土著学者、艺术家和活动家发动了一场社会媒体革命,他们通过写信和请愿书从土著反抗血统中脱颖而出。还有一种正在兴起的原住民播客文化:例如,由学术界切尔西·邦德博士和喜剧作家安吉丽娜·赫利主持的《野生黑人妇女》就是一个非常有趣和政治精明的节目,它以种族主义、白人和父权制为任务。body1180314_biennale_agnsw_149_cmyk.jpg Across Australia, Artists are Disrupting the Colonial Mindset - 在澳大利亚各地,艺术家正在扰乱殖民思想。欢迎来到乡村,吉米·史密斯叔叔举办的吸烟仪式,新南威尔士美术馆,悉尼预览,2018年,第21届双年展。礼仪:悉尼双年展;照片莱文·贝尔德。墨尔本出现了一股新的土著艺术家和活动家集体,包括真正的布莱克·廷兹,这个暴徒和土著抵抗战士。澳大利亚日是在1月26日庆祝的,但对于澳大利亚土著人来说,它被称为入侵日,因为它是为了纪念1788年第一批英国船队登陆和宣布英国对土著土地的主权。今年,战争通过墨尔本组织了一次游行,吸引了60000人,要求取消澳大利亚日。(一些媒体报道把这个与其他要求将日期改为更具包容性的日期的要求混为一谈。)抗议活动还标志着悉尼土著领导人会议80周年,要求设立全国哀悼日,以承认在联合政府期间土著人丧生。UNTER的殖民统治,并公开反对他们正在进行的虐待。战争还创造了标志性的抗议横幅,呼吁非殖民化,土地权利和土著儿童和妇女的权利。(这些横幅以“主权”为特色,这是我于2016年在墨尔本澳大利亚当代艺术中心举办的展览。)土著妇女的主动性在这个运动中是突出的;土著母系制是一种推动的文化力量。高gwenbrooks.jpg Across Australia, Artists are Disrupting the Colonial Mindset - 在澳大利亚各地,艺术家正在扰乱殖民思想。 Real Blak Tingz(Gabi Briggs和Arika Waulu),Gwen Brooke,2017,giclée印刷,119×84cm。礼貌:艺术家和库里遗产信托,墨尔本一些艺术组织,艺术学校和独立画廊正试图以各种方式对他们的空间进行非殖民化。第一步通常是通过开放展览的口头致谢,通过安装命名为传统建筑的土地的牌匾,或者邀请来自传统所有者的长老来尊重原住民(土地/s)的原住民。团体欢迎乡村仪式和演讲。这些确认也可能出现在画廊网站和目录或其他出版物上。非殖民化还呼吁土著艺术家提醒公众,他们继续抵制殖民主义和种族主义,谈到跨代的创伤,谴责殖民叙事在公共空间和解决制度白度和特权。其他包容性做法包括邀请土著艺术家、策展人、作家和活动家加入博物馆董事会、在活动中发言和为出版物写作。例如,最近,艺术杂志《联合国项目》出版了两期,由土著作家编辑,非营利出版组织“扬眉”推出了即将出版的全黑人妇女版。这项工作在澳大利亚,一个主流媒体仍然以白人代表为主的国家是至关重要的。举例来说,《邻居》这部广受欢迎的电视剧自1985年开始播出,至今仍以其香草版的郊区风靡一时。实际上,这个地区建立在对土著人的剥夺之上,是几代移民和颜色。非白种人的声音和脸通常只在非营利性广播公司上看到和听到,例如国家土著电视、特别广播服务和澳大利亚广播公司。在许多画廊和博物馆中,大多数高级馆长的角色都是由非土著人持有的。这导致了对白人的偏袒,类似于对美国这个地方运动的非殖民化。在我居住的墨尔本,许多艺术家和集体独立于主流画廊工作。诸如1974年成立的足球社区艺术中心这样的组织,现在已经有了十年由土著人主导的规划和项目。body-2liverpool-biennial-thierry-.-58_cmyk.jpg Across Australia, Artists are Disrupting the Colonial Mindset - 在澳大利亚各地,艺术家正在扰乱殖民思想。 Dale Harding,Bimbird和Reckitt's Blue中的墙体组成,2018,塔特利物浦安装图,利物浦两年一度。礼貌:艺术家,利物浦双年展和米兰尼画廊,布里斯班;照片:Thierry Bal.主张主权和自决也可以被描述为“非殖民”,这个词是由土著梅蒂斯艺术家和加拿大学者David Garneau创造的,他说话。通过与土著社区,而不是代表我们改造博物馆收藏品,并在博物馆内建造非殖民空间,来创造一个“非殖民纪念品存放地”。Bunjiala土著文化中心由土著馆长和社区成员组成。今年早些时候,管理墨尔本博物馆的维多利亚博物馆任命吉纳维夫·格里夫斯为其164年历史上第一批土著民族收藏品的负责人。当代政治原住民艺术是多产的,画了超过60000年的生活和文化。今年6月,澳大利亚悉尼当代艺术博物馆土著居民和托雷斯海峡岛民收藏和展览馆馆长布伦在《Artlink》上发表了一篇文章,他把非殖民化描述为第一民族的当代化进程。重新构建自己的思想结构,了解殖民的历史,重振传统、语言和文化价值观,同时思考走遍世界的新途径。这种方式的一些好例子包括《绑定与释放:主权法案》(法案1)和《绑定与释放》(法案2)(2015)的破坏性和诗意的表演,这些表演是在澳大利亚南部阿德莱德的国家美术馆、图书馆和博物馆的殖民地区进行的。(该团体包括四名土著妇女:阿里·古米莉娅·贝克、费耶·罗萨斯·布兰奇、娜塔莉·哈金和西蒙·乌拉尔卡·图尔。)在墨尔本,维姬·库赞斯和玛莉·克拉克是重振传统文化习俗的高级土著妇女,如改造负鼠皮斗篷和创造“记忆体”。东方的荣誉祭奠失去的原住民生活。布里斯班的阿尔奇·摩尔创作了沉浸式的、感性的作品,将童年时期黑人生活的经历作为活着的纪念。同样在布里斯班,戴尔·哈丁的作品通过家庭成员教给他的颠覆性工艺和安装工作,向土著妇女的劳动表示敬意。他的装置讲述了他祖先土地上的地方和历史的家族知识。(他的作品今年早些时候被列入英国利物浦双年展。)尸体-3天哀悼-1997-戈登-胡基_cmyk.jpg Across Australia, Artists are Disrupting the Colonial Mindset - 在澳大利亚各地,艺术家正在扰乱殖民思想。戈登·胡基,哀悼日,1997年,混合媒体横幅,70x 120 cm(大约)。礼貌:艺术家,澳大利亚国家博物馆,堪培拉和米兰尼画廊,布里斯班。还有来自太平洋散居者的实践者,包括馆长莱利·埃什拉吉和艺术家丽莎·希利以及几位白人。澳大利亚艺术家。埃斯拉吉和Hilli都很自觉地意识到他们的观点,他们也是土著人。他们的工作试图弄清楚他们在未被占领的被盗土地上的位置,创造出抗争和抗争的空间。梅根·埃文斯关于她的白人历史特权的自我反思作品来自于她与土著艺术家如彼得·瓦普斯-克罗的合作。他们2016年的展览《蹲下和野蛮人》运用幽默和颠覆来反映殖民边界的暴力。白色女权主义者集体苏打杰克的《无所畏惧》(2018)是一部55分钟的电影,将澳大利亚电影院的标志性场景拼贴成对什么的评论。民族主义。这引发了对其资助者伊恩波特基金会的争议,该基金会在其发行前撤回了对该片的宣传支持,称之为“非澳大利亚”和“一部极具争议性的艺术作品”。艺术家(悉尼的兄弟姐妹丹和多米尼克·安吉罗罗)3月份对《卫报》说,如果“非常有争议”是另一种表达作品愿意开始令人不舒服的对话的方式,那么我们会很高兴地佩戴它。原住民艺术是一种反唇相讥的力量。1991年,艺术家命运执事(Destiny Deacon)创造了一个短语,用来描述澳大利亚白人的历史和身份。它分享了土著艺术家的生活经历,这些艺术家以破坏白人主导的公共话语的行为来抵制正在进行的殖民项目。作为Yorta Yorta策展人,Kimberle


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