Indigenous Art Triennial

Australia’s Indigenous Art Triennial is Powerful and Political

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

by Katherine Gillespie
May 25 2017, 5:40pm

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.

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

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.

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

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 humor, others with pain and anger, others with sorrow. The gallery says that the Triennial aims to start national conversations about Indigenous issues through art.

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

Check out more images from some of the contemporary artists taking part in Defying Empire below, and stay tuned—Creators Australia will be covering work from the show every day next week.

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

The show opens on Friday, May 26, and continues until September 10, 2017. Click here to learn more about Defying Empire.

This article originally appeared on Creators AU/NZ.


How the Nation's Artists Are Standing with Standing Rock

Learn Quillwork and Indigenous Culture at North Dakota Gallery Five Nations Arts | #50StatesofArt

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