Identity, representation, racism, the influence of religion and the exploitation of Country are all issues that are explored through Indigenous artists’ perspectives in Over the fence: Contemporary Indigenous photography from the Corrigan Collection.
Exhibition curator Gordon Craig says the 18 artists presented individual approaches to cultural issues, but shared a common mindset that advocated equality, recognition and respect.
“Some photographs in the exhibition directly relate to recent events while others respond to historical racism and oppression – but when viewed collectively, they highlight the broader socio-political concerns that Australia has struggled to resolve in relation to our Indigenous peoples,” Mr Craig said.
Mr Craig says the exhibition was drawn from the private collection of art patron, philanthropist and businessman Patrick Corrigan AM.
“It’s been a privilege to work with Pat’s collection, and to bring together an exhibition with so many talented Australian artists,” Mr Craig said.
“Pat is one of this country’s most dedicated supporters of Australian contemporary art and artists and we’re not only extremely fortunate to access works from his private collection, but also for his long-term friendship and association with the UQ Art Museum.”
Patrick Corrigan has found lndigenous photography particularly appealing for its ability to tell important stories about our culture, often with an edge of humour.
“This exhibition represents a new generation of art-makers – urban-based lndigenous artists who use the medium of photography as the perfect vehicle for storytelling,” Mr Corrigan said.
“The art world can be too serious sometimes, so humour offers an important way to connect people with a work's message – it keeps the viewer engaged, rather than repelling them.
“Of course it can also work to disarm the viewer, especially when the image or the work's message is confrontational or adopts a political stance – and that can be just as effective.”
Over the fence: Contemporary Indigenous photography from the Corrigan Collection runs from 6 August to 30 October.
Tony Albert speaks art:
The artwork of Tony Albert, a Girramay and Kuku Yalanji man from far north Queensland, was selected to represent cultural issues in Australia.
Albert’s works Brother (Our past), Brother (Our present), and Brother (Our future) echo this experience of a possible violent encounter. It is as though they may be targeted at any time. This continued danger is exemplified through the bracketed portions of the titles.
“Brothers” was inspired by the point blank police shooting of an Aboriginal teenager in Sydney in 2012. However, the work reiterates the continued occurrence of oppression and violence enacted on Aboriginal people (in this case, young men), which is often indirectly sanctioned by the wider general public.
“I think it’s really great for my work to be shown, especially given what’s going on with Aboriginal youth in the Northern Territory at the moment … It’s so potent those works depicting young Aboriginal boys as targets are on display.”
“There were issues that put a blanket image of Aboriginal men as women bashers, unreliable fathers and trouble makers… it was an interesting time for Aboriginal men to be portrayed as perpetrators and I wanted to do a piece that explored the vilification of young Indigenous men.”
“As a teenager I came across amazing works by artists such as Destiny Deacon, Gordon Bennett, Tracey Moffatt... they took art for me, just beyond a pretty picture. They conceptualized frame works and political issues that resonated with me."
"It enabled me to form an opinion through art. They made me believe ‘I could have made this work,’ because it was of people feeling and thinking the same way I did. To now be included in the show with mentors and people that inspired me to do what I do is a real honour."
Albert is currently working on another installation, where he uses vintage AshTrays to look at ides associated with what it mean to Ash out on Someones Face or Culture.
His exhibition "Unalienable" can be seen 3 September until the 1 October in Sydney's Sullivan + Strumpf gallery.