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Australia’s Indigenous Art Triennial is Powerful and Political

‘Defying Empire’ will use art to start national conversations about race.

Katherine Gillespie

Katherine Gillespie

Archie Moore's "Aboriginal Anarchy" (2012)

The third annual Indigenous Art Triennial is opening tomorrow at the National Gallery of Australia, showcasing work from leading and emerging Indigenous contemporary artists from around the country. Defying Empire will be the gallery's largest ever survey show of contemporary Indigenous art, and on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum that allowed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to be counted as members of the Australian population, it stands to reason that the show is politically-charged.

With work from 30 artists, including Brook Andrew, Daniel Boyd, Fiona Foley, Reko Rennie, and Megan Cope, the show takes a defiant stance against colonialism and celebrates the "ongoing resilience of Australia's Indigenous people since first contact with the British Empire, through to the fight for recognition in the 1967 Referendum and ongoing activism to the present day," according to a National Gallery spokesperson.

Urban and desert art will be included in the show across a diverse range of mediums including painting on canvas and bark, sculpture, weaving, film and video, prints and photography, metalwork, glass and large scale installations. From what we've seen, the works tackle some of Australia's most pressing racial issues from a number of vantage points—some with humour, others with pain and anger, others with sorrow. The gallery says that the Triennial aims to start national conversations about Indigenous issues through art.

Check out images from some of the contemporary artists taking part in Defying Empire below. It opens on Friday April 26, and continues until September 10. And stay tuned— Creators Australia will be covering work from the show every day next week.

Karla Dickens "Assimilated Warriors" (2014) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Megan Cope "The Blaktism" (2014) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Fiona Foley "Pontificate on This" (detail) (2016) Courtesy of the artist and Andrew Baker Gallery

Sebastian Arrow "Jalinyi" (2016) Courtesy of the artist and Short St Gallery


Sandra Hill "Double Standards" (2015) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Julie Gough "Hunting ground (Pastoral) Van Diemen's Land" (detail) 2016 Courtesy of the artist and Bett Gallery

Brenda L. Croft "shut/mouth/scream" (detail) (2016) Courtesy of the artist and Stills Gallery

Maree Clarke "Made from memory (Nan's house)" (detail) (2017) Courtesy of the artist and Vivien Anderson Gallery

Daniel Boyd "Untitled (DOC)" (2016) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

Raymond Zada "Racebook" (2012) National Gallery of Australia, Canberra



Related:

Celebrating Australia's Indigenous Women Artists

Native Art Biennial Spotlights the Work of Indigenous Americans

It's Time to Rethink How We See Indigenous Australian Art