Articles on Indigenous arts

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A picture of strength: lifelong activist Bonita Mabo OA in front of her portrait as a young woman, which features in her granddaughter Boneta-Marie Mabo’s first solo exhibition. Josef Ruckli, courtesy of the State Library of Queensland

Black Velvet: redefining and celebrating Indigenous Australian women in art

Boneta-Marie Mabo's art responds to a colonial past in which Aboriginal women were fetishised as "black velvet". But it also celebrates strong women, including her activist grandmother Bonita Mabo.
Mariaa Randall delivers an impressive performance in HA LF at the Footscray Arts Centre. Photo by Jeff Busby

HA LF’s ‘kooriography’ shines at the Wominjeka Festival

As part of the Footscray Community Arts Centre’s Womenjika Festival this weekend, Mariaa Randall (Githatbul and Gidabul) and the DubaiKungkaMiyalk (DKM) Dance Company’s moving performance HA LF places…
Indigenous land management jobs have been a popular, growing area of employment in recent years. AAP Image/Peter Eve

Would you risk losing your home for a few weeks of work?

Tony Abbott is spending this week in North-East Arnhem Land, part of his long-held hope “to be not just the Prime Minister but the Prime Minister for Aboriginal Affairs”. We asked our experts: what stories…
Carly Sheppard is performing in Melbourne as part of Next Wave. Gregory Lorenzutti

White Face – some notes from a fair-skinned Aboriginal

Carly Sheppard’s latest work, White Face playing as part of Melbourne’s Next Wave festival this week, is a contemporary performance addressing personal experiences as a fair-skinned Aboriginal person based…
Australian Indigenous performance traditions are a unique expression of what it is to be human. Tali Caspi

We’ve lost 98% of Indigenous music traditions – who cares?

Australian Indigenous performance traditions, among the oldest in the world, are also among the most endangered. According to a Statement on Indigenous Australian Music and Dance endorsed in 2011 by the…
Aboriginal Mimi ‘trickster’ spirits are genderless. Making Camp at 'Forest, Cunningham's Gap, 1856', 2009, pigmented inks on 310gsm Huhnemuble German Etching Paper, edition of 5, 29.5 x 42 cm (paper size). Courtesy of the artist, Troy-Anthony Baylis

The art of seeing Aboriginal Australia’s queer potential

Since European contact Aboriginal people, such as myself, have been constructed as “straight”. This cultural default has contributed to the difficulty of proving so-called “real accounts” of sexual and…
Garom, a sculpture made from discarded “ghost nets” in the Torres Strait. Australian Museum/Supplied

Ghostly art, made from debris that menaces marine life

With more than half a million people participating in last Sunday’s Clean Up Australia Day, it’s perhaps not surprising that some odd objects came to light. Not all the rubbish was on land, and not all…
The children of the wealthy know that mainstream culture belongs to them. urbanartcore.eu

Rise of Indigenous art speaks volumes about class in Australia

The Conversation is running a series, Class in Australia, to identify, illuminate and debate its many manifestations. Here, Joanna Mendelssohn examines the links between Indigenous art and class. The great…
Linda Namiyal Bopirri, 1990, Yolngu Matha, Dhuwa moiety, (Liyagalawumirr), Guruwara, Ramingining, Central Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Birds on Oyster Bank, (‘Oyster Dreaming’, ‘Wayanaka’), Acrylic and Natural Pigments on Canvas, 122x122 cm. © the artist's estate, licensed by Aboriginal Artists Agency Ltd; Burkhardt-Felder Collection, Switzerland

Location, location, location: two contrasting Dreaming narratives

Location, location, location. The real estate agents’ hollow, hackneyed mantra takes on real purchase when applied to the distribution of Dreamings and Dreaming narratives across this continent and its…
Gumuk Gumana, Dhalwangu freshwater at Gängan 1947 (lumber crayon and graphite on butchers paper, 114 x 74 cm). Berndt Collection, Berndt Museum of Anthropology, University of Western Australia, Perth. © the artist’s estate. AGNSW

Review: Yirrkala Drawings bring luminous revelations

This exhibition is not just about art, it is about us: the land, the sea, our ancestors. Those words were spoken by Waka Munungurr, ceremonial leader and senior custodian, Djapu clan, at a preview viewing…
The Sydney Opera House is not the only cultural institution celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2013. AAP Image/Quentin Jones

40 years on: how Gough Whitlam gave Indigenous art a boost

As you’ve no doubt noticed, celebrations are underway to mark the 40th anniversary of the Sydney Opera House – and that’s as it should be. But this year marks a few other “40ths” that have had a tremendous…
Investment in the Indigenous art market has a direct and traceable human impact. AAP Image/National Museum of Australia, Tim Acker

How super laws are killing the market for Indigenous art

Ownership, investment and art have never been entirely comfortable bedfellows. Recently, an email began to circulate among artists, gallery directors and art investors, asking recipients to lobby the Abbott…
Galiwin'ku, Elcho Island, the Yolngu people’s customary land. The lead singer of Yothu Yindi, a Yolngu band, died yesterday, aged 56. Flickr/boobook48

Yothu Yindi and the Yolngu culture: dreaming of a brighter day

The lead singer of the band Yothu Yindi died yesterday of kidney disease, aged 56. Only a few decades after radio, popular music and electric guitars spread through Arnhem Land in the 1960s, Yothu Yindi…
If funding for Aboriginal artists and organisations is cut, performers like The Black Arm Band will not receive adequate support. IFACCA

Indigenous cultural policy: Creative Australia or creative accounting?

Like many others, I was pleasantly surprised by the government’s announcement last month of A$54 million in funding for Indigenous languages as part of the national cultural policy – Creative Australia…
Namatjira, by Imants Tillers, which won the 2013 Wynne Prize. Art Gallery of NSW

Times change but the art establishment rolls on

It was the 1960s when a curator – who shall remain nameless – was ordered to hang Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira’s work in his gallery. He hung the painting next to the ladies toilet with a vase of…

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