This week, thanks to my long-time Brisbane correspondent Glenn Manser, I have a set of photographs from the new exhibition of Indigenous art at the Gallery of Modern Art. My Country, I Still Call Australia Home: Contemporary Art from Black Australia looks stunning, and I’m now eagerly awaiting the arrival of the catalog, which features essays by Hetti Perkins, Brenda L. Croft, Glenn Iseger-Pilkington, and the exhibition’s curator, Bruce McLean. Running concurrently for the first three months of the exhibition is My Life As I Live It: First Peoples and Black Cinema, a film series of features, shorts, and documentaries highlighting the work of Indigenous Australian directors Beck Cole, Darlene Johnson, Rachel Perkins, Ivan Sen, and Warwick Thornton, along with filmmakers from New Zealand, Canada, the US, and Britain. I’ve cribbed the following text from the Gallery’s media release as a prelude to some wonderful shots of the installation.
Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) will stage its largest exhibition of contemporary Indigenous Australian art when ‘My Country, I Still Call Australia Home: Contemporary Art from Black Australia’ goes on display from June 1 until October 7, 2013.
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) Acting Deputy Director of Curatorial and Collection Development Maud Page said ‘My Country’ would feature more than 300 works by over 115 artists from every state and territory, as well as an interactive children’s exhibition, cinema program and community opening events including a performance by Archie Roach.
‘The exhibition will include works from the Gallery’s holdings of Indigenous Australian painting, sculpture, fibre art, Hermannsburg pottery, prints, photography, installation and video art, divided into three thematic areas that explore history, contemporary issues and physical country,’ Ms Page said.
In addition to work from the Collection by Vernon Ah Kee, Doreen Reid Nakamarra, Michael Riley, Vincent Serico, Brook Andrew, Christopher Pease, Judy Watson, Warwick Thornton, Archie Moore, Mirdidingkingathi Juwarrnda Sally Gabori, Richard Bell, Tony Albert, Dickie Minyintiri, Wakartu Cory Surprise, Destiny Deacon, Bindi Cole, Fiona Foley, Christian Thompson and many more, two new site specific installations will be commissioned for key areas in the Gallery.
‘Reko Rennie will install a major new abstract work on the GOMA foyer wall, while Megan Cope will create a large-scale map-based installation on the glass of the River Room,’ Ms Page said.
‘A community day of public programs on Saturday June 1 will mark the opening of the exhibition, featuring exhibiting artists, writers and curators, followed that night by a free Up Late event with performances by Archie Roach and The Medics featuring Bunna Lawrie of Coloured Stone.
‘Complementing ‘My Country’ is the Children’s Art Centre interactive exhibition ‘Gordon Hookey: Kangaroo Crew’, and the film program My Life as I Live It: First Peoples and Black Cinema, presented in the GOMA Cinema,’ she said.
QAGOMA Curator of Indigenous Australian Art Bruce McLean said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists were instrumental in telling their own Australian stories.
‘This exhibition will explore how these artists present views of history, assert their presence over country, respond to contemporary politics and highlight contemporary Indigenous experiences in Australia,’ Mr McLean said.
‘The spine of the exhibition, in GOMA’s Long Gallery, will feature an expansive salon-style hang of desert paintings that will read like a map of the many Aboriginal nations across the country’s interior.’
Ms Page said the ‘Kangaroo Crew’ project would be built around a story by Gordon Hookey, featuring four kangaroos who once lived together in harmony on a hill.
‘When their home is threatened by the arrival of myna birds, the kangaroos are forced to leave and must work together to return to their home at the top of the hill. ‘The ‘Kangaroo Crew’ project will occupy the Park Level of GOMA’s Children’s Art Centre with hands-on and multimedia interactives,’ Ms Page said.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication featuring artist interviews and essays by exhibition curator Bruce McLean, and leading Indigenous Australian curators and scholars Brenda L Croft, Hetti Perkins and Glenn Iseger-Pilkington. The Gallery’s sixth publication for children, The Sacred Hill, will be published in association with the ‘Gordon Hookey: Kangaroo Crew’.
Coinciding with ‘My Country’ are two Collection displays at GOMA. ‘Death and Life: Rakuny Ga Walnga’ is an exhibition of contemporary art from Arnhem Land, showing from May 25, while ‘Voice and Reason’, on display form May 18, considers the dialogues at play in works by Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian artists.
‘My Country, I Still Call Australia Home’ is supported by PanAust as Major Sponsor, and Brisbane Marketing as Tourism Partner.
The Children’s Art Centre publication The Sacred Hill is sponsored by Solutions in Engineering, and the Children’s Art Centre is sponsored by Santos.
My Country, I Still Call Australia Home: Contemporary Art from Black Australia is featured online in Art Guide Australia, and a gallery of photos from the exhibition appeared on May 31 in the Brisbane Times. A review appeared yesterday (June 1) in the Sydney Morning Herald (with another photo gallery). And there’s an interview with Bruce McLean, Vernon Ah Kee, andHetti Perkins on ABC Radio.