The Ballarat International Foto Biennale is proud to present Tell, an exhibition of contemporary Indigenous photography, unbound by convention. Bringing together new commissions and recent works by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, this collection deploys new photographic technologies and techniques to tell these stories and articulate the experience of life as an Indigenous person. Tell highlights photography as a multifaceted and innovative outlet of expression for Indigenous artists working today, and opens up a new line of sight, challenging the existing predispositions of Indigenous art that continue to permeate Australia’s increasingly digitised and intercultural landscape. The exhibition features the work of Moorina Bonini, Maree Clarke, Bindi Cole Chocka, Brenda L Croft, Destiny Deacon, Robert Fielding, Deanne Gilson, Jody Haines, Dianne Jones, Ricky Maynard, Hayley Millar-Baker, Kent Morris, Pitcha Makin Fellas, Steven Rhall, Damien Shen, Warwick Thornton and James Tylor, exposing a culturally dynamic visual narrative which mediates past, present and future.
CURATOR: Jessica Clark
Jessica Clark is a Palawa woman, and current curator for the Ballarat International Foto Biennale, teacher and arts manager. She has been working in the arts sector since 2009, and her work has been published in Catalyst Magazine and Angela Tandori Fine Art. She was part of the Australian contingent as an emerging Indigenous curator at the Venice Biennale. Currently she is completing a Master of Arts Management at RMIT University.
Moorina Bonini, a proud Yorta Yorta woman and member of the Dhulunyagen Clan, draws from her own experiences as an Aboriginal and Italian woman by creating work that examines ideas surrounding everyday racism, stereotypes and identity. She is an emerging artist that works predominantly within the realms of video art, photography and installation. Well known for her photographic prints of landscapes and self-portraits, Moorina utilizes her work as a platform to create conversation as well as bring focus to Aboriginal culture. Bonini has been shortlisted for the National Gallery of Victoria’s Top Arts Exhibition (2015) and has continued to exhibit her works in a number of independent exhibitions in and around Melbourne.
Maree Clarke, a Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, BoonWurrung woman from Mildura in northwest Victoria, is a multi-disciplinary artist living and working in Melbourne. She is a pivotal figure in the reclamation of southeast Australian Aboriginal art practices, reviving elements of Aboriginal culture that were lost over the period of colonisation, as well as a leader in nurturing and promoting the diversity of contemporary southeast Aboriginal artists. Maree’s continuing desire to affirm and reconnect with her cultural heritage has seen her revification of the traditional possum skin cloaks, together with the production of contemporary designs of kangaroo teeth necklaces, and string headbands adorned with kangaroo teeth and echidna quills. Her multi-media installations of photography, painting, sculpture and video installation further explore the customary ceremonies, rituals and language of her ancestors. She is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and Museum Victoria, Melbourne amongst others.
Bindi Cole Chocka
Bindi Cole Chocka is a Wathaurong woman and an award-winning contemporary photographer, new media artist, writer and curator, whose work often references her life story and experiences, such as her Aboriginal heritage, the importance of Christianity in her life and the impact of politics, the law and other power structures on her lived experience and that of her family and community. Cole-Chocka’s works to expose the questions most are afraid to ask. At times, her artworks are so personal having been cathartically imbued with a gritty honesty, that the viewer’s experience can verge on voyeurism. Her work exposes the latent and unspoken power dynamics of global culture in the here and now. She subtly but powerfully reveals some uncomfortable truths about the fundamental disconnection between who we are – the communities and identities by which we shape our sense of self – and how the prevailing culture attempts to place and define us.
Brenda L Croft
Brenda L Croft is from the Gurindji/Malngin/Mudpurra peoples from the Victoria River region of the Northern Territory of Australia, and Anglo-Australian/German/Irish/Chinese heritage. She has been involved in the Indigenous and broader contemporary arts and cultural sectors for three decades as an artist, arts administrator, curator, academic and consultant. Croft’s artistic practice encompasses critical performative Indigenous auto-ethnography, representation and cultural identity, creative narratives, installation, multi-media and multi-platform work, often drawn from personal and public archives and memory.
Destiny Deacon is a Erub/Mer and Ku Ku woman living in Melbourne. She has exhibited in galleries around Australia and internationally since 1990 with photography, video, installation and performance. Her performative photographs, videos and installations feature members of her family and friends posing for the camera. Partly autobiographical and partly fictitious, her acerbic, humorous and melancholic work deals with both historical issues and contemporary Aboriginal life and is informed by personal experience and the mass media – examining the wide discrepancies between the representation of Aboriginal people by the white Australian population and the reality of Aboriginal life.
She is represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery in Sydney.
Robert Fielding’s mother was Garieva Fielding (dec.), a woman of Pakistani/Western Arrernte descent. Robert’s father Bruce Fielding (dec.) was a Yankunytjatjara man from Finke (Aputula). Bruce was born at Lilla Creek, but as a child he was taken from his mother and raised in Colebrook Home, at Quorn, South Australia. Robert’s grandmother was Miriam Khan (dec.) and she was from Henbury Station. Her husband was James Inkamala (dec.) and he was from Nhtaria Hermannsburg. Robert is the youngest of 12 children. Continuing the tradition of large families, he and his wife Kaye Lowah have 9 children of their own – Zaachariaha, Zaavan, Zibeon, Zeldon Fielding, Payrozza, Partimah, Peshwah, Priayangka and Zedekiaha Fielding. Robert’s wife Kaye is of Torres Strait/Kanaka heritage.
Robert has been developing his artistic practice at Mimili Maku Arts since 2005 and been employed as a studio assistant, supporting his fellow artists at the art centre since 2010. Robert participated in the Wesfarmers Indigenous Leaders program in 2013 and has led the way for the arts worker program at Mimili Maku Arts. In his role as an arts worker, Robert has developed a strong skillset in photography, which he has enthusiastically incorporated into his artistic practice. His artistic practice is a way for him to connect to his heritage and family, featuring members of his family in photographs.
Deanne Gilson is a proud Wadawurrung woman and award-winning visual artist working primarily in paint, clay, drawing and sculptural installations, and more recently with photographic mediums. Her artwork draws from a spiritual, ancestral connection to Country, place and culture, accompanied by a personal truth acknowledging the lived experiences of the past, present and hopes for the future. Gilson employs an interdisciplinary approach to art-making with the aim to reclaim traditional knowledge by reflecting the colonial gaze back and challenging Western portrayals of Aboriginal people, especially the roles matriarchal women played in keeping her family together throughout the colonisation period. Her artworks are constantly being influenced by the changing social and political environment that brought about loss of family, children, culture, identity, ceremonies and traditional artefact and adornment making, songs, dance and language. She attempts to filter the racism, oppression, discrimination and the need to be able to express the truth and reality of one’s actual lived experience, in a way that is respectful and non-confrontational towards my people.
Gilson has 35 years of experience working in the arts and is currently undertaking a PhD that is focused on the objectification of Aboriginal women by the male colonial gaze.
Jody Haines is a Palawa woman and descendant of Mannalargenna from Tasmania’s North West Coast. Jody was born in 1973 to a couple of young lovers, who later – between them and separately – would give her a brood of rather amazing humans as siblings; these humans essentially provided a reason to keep questioning and pushing against the social status quo.
After years of traveling and experiencing what life had to offer, Haines placed down some roots and studied Contemporary Music, majoring in Voice. Quickly recognising that maybe her dreams of a rock star existence might not be realised, she pursued her other passion – the visual – and went on to study a Bachelor of Photography at Griffith University. Afterward Jody embarked on a career as a photographer, and then moved into Curatorial practice, focusing on social documentary photography as her medium.
Dianne Jones is a Melbourne-based artist whose work has been featured in group exhibitions, and held in private collections and public galleries, around Australia and the world since 2001. She is also a published writer, and is currently undertaking a PhD at Victorian College of the Arts with a research visual art project. Her work inverts the accepted view of Australian art history by repositioning the representations of Indigenous people by placing them into iconic Australian artistic images.
Ricky Maynard is an Indigenous photographer with a commitment to representing his people, and a belief in the value of documentary photography as a tool to effect social change. An important aspect of Maynard’s work is to bring to light the stories of Indigenous people where they have previously been absent or distorted. His photographs mark historical sites, events and community figures of great significance to Tasmanian and mainland Aboriginal people, and speak to their struggle in a subtle, poetic, and powerful way.
Maynard was born in Tasmania, where he lives and works. He came to prominence in 1988 with a photo essay on Aboriginal Mutton bird farmers entitled The Moon-Bird People, which was commissioned for the photographic book After 200 Years: Photographic Essays of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Australia Today (1988).
Hayley Millar-Baker is a Gunditjmara artist born on Wathaurong land in Victoria. Her practice is influenced and informed by her Koorie heritage and her own experience, existing in a contemporary urban culture. Her connection to culture is inherent to her contemporary practice that explores themes of displacement, alienation, suppression, and social confinement. She utilises the mediums of photography, painting and installation to layer personal imagery and anthropomorphic representations of Indigenous presence in aim of opening-up digital visual gateways for new narratives to take form.
Kent Morris is a Barkindji man, photographer and curator currently living and working in Melbourne. His body of work spans 20 years as a practising artist. Morris’s photographic work exposes and questions the colonial mindset that permeates Australian culture and society. He uses motif, reflection and symbolism in his photographic work as visual recognition of the vitality of Indigeneity regardless of colonial imposition.
Morris graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts and is an alumnus of the National Gallery of Australia’s Wesfarmers Indigenous Leadership Program. Central themes in his art practice are the connections between contemporary Indigenous experience and contemporary cultural practices and their continuation and evolution. Kent Morris is represented by the Vivien Anderson Gallery.
The Pitcha Makin Fellas
The Pitcha Makin Fellas are a group of Indigenous artists and writers based in Ballarat that are passionate about culture and community, formed in 2013. Getting together to yarn, paint and write weekly in their studio in country Victoria, the Pitcha Makin Fellas have soared to create vibrant expressions of their personal histories and stories as Aboriginal men. The group includes:
Myles Walsh a Yorta Yorta man who practices in the Visual Arts medium in his spare time.
Peter-Shane Rotumah is a Gunditjmara man and this is the first creative journey with the Pitcha Makin Fellas.
Adrian Rigney is a Wotjabaluk/Ngarrindjeri born in Melbourne. He enjoys the activities and achievements of the group.
Ted Laxton is a Gunditjmara man from the Framlingham Reserve in Western Victoria and has been involved in the arts for 3 years.
Thomas Marks is a Gunnai/Kurnai(Gippsland)/Wotjabaluk man who became involved with the art group through the local Aboriginal Men’s group.
Joe Lee is a Nunga man who came to Ballarat from Melbourne about 20 years ago.
Steven Rhall is an emerging contemporary artist and Taungurung man born on Wautherung Country. His interdisciplinary photographic practice responds to the cultural landscape, creating networks of interconnected signs and symbols. Reflecting upon both medium specificity and cultural semiotics, Rhall merges post-colonial and interpersonal narratives. His installations often include video, found objects and materials of advertising.
Damien Shen is a South Australian man of Ngarrindjeri and Chinese bloodlines. His artistic practice is embedded in histories, revisiting the people, places and stories that shape the world he occupies. From time consuming, labor intensive drawings to bleeding water colors and velvety smooth oil paintings, Shen is constantly constructing and deconstructing the world around him through his imagery to better understand his identity and the identity of those that help to shape the world he lives.
Warwick Thornton is a Kaytej man from North of Alice Springs. His artistic practice interrogates and challenges the established history of Australia, its overtly political environment, and social situations affecting all Australians. Thornton is an award-winning artist, writer, director and cinematographer, with many credits including The Sapphires (2012) and Samson and Delilah. His installation, Mother Courage (2012), was exhibited at Documenta, Germany and ACMI.
James Tylor & Laura Wills
James Tylor’s artistic practice examines concepts around cultural identity in Australian contemporary society and social history. He explores Australian cultural representations through his multicultural heritage, which comprises Nunga (Kaurna), Maori (Te Arawa) and European (English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Iberian and Norwegian) Australian ancestry. Tylor’s work focuses largely on the 19th century history of Australia and its continual effect on present day issues surrounding cultural identity in Australia. He uses a hybrid of analogue and digital photographic techniques to create contemporary artworks that reference Australian society and history. James is creating new work for the Tell exhibition in collaboration with contemporary artist Laura Wills.
Laura is a visual artist based in Adelaide, Australia. With a Bachelor of Visual Arts and Applied Design from Adelaide Center of the Arts (2003) she practices a diverse range of media from painting, drawing and photography to installation, media arts and community projects. Wills has a strong interest in using found materials, collaboration and basing projects on social/ environmental themes. She regularly exhibits and has received numerous grants, awards and residencies locally in Australia and overseas.
Please select an entry time
- March 18, 2017 - September 18, 2017