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. Her works are inspired by her own experiences as an Aboriginal and Italian woman, creating work that examines ideas surrounding everyday racism, stereotypes and identity through introspective accounts of lived experience and the constant questions that are hurled in everyday slurs that question her identity. Bonini is an emerging artist that works predominantly within the realms of video art, photography and installation and utilises her contemporary practice as a platform to bring focus to Aboriginal culture.
Maree Clarke is a Mutti Mutti, Yorta Yorta, BoonWurrung woman from Mildura in northwest Victoria currently living and working in Melbourne. She is a pivotal figure in the reclamation of southeast Australian Aboriginal art practices and a leader in nurturing and promoting the diversity of contemporary southeast Aboriginal artists. Her 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 river reed necklaces, alongside multi-media installations of photography and video work. Clarke’s work explores the customary ceremonies, rituals and language of her ancestors and reveals her long-held ambitions to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue about the ongoing effects of colonisation, while simultaneously providing space for the Aboriginal community to engage with and ‘mourn’ the impact of dispossession and loss.
Bindi Cole Chocka
Bindi Cole Chocka is an award-winning resilient and ingenious contemporary photographer, new media artist, writer and curator, whose work exposes the questions that 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 uncovers 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.
In 2010, Chocka was listed as one of the ‘Top 100 Most Influential People’ (The Age) in Melbourne. Since her first solo show in 2007, Chocka’s work has been widely exhibited at galleries throughout Australia and the world. Her work is held in many collections across the globe. Chocka lives and works in Melbourne, Australia, is married and has two children.
Brenda L Croft
Brenda L Croft is a member of the Gurindji/Malngin/Mudburra peoples from the Northern Territory of Australia, and Anglo-Australian/German/Irish/Chinese heritage. Croft has been involved in the contemporary arts and cultural sectors for over three decades as an artist, arts administrator, curator, researcher and consultant. She creates multidisciplinary, and multi-platform works drawing on personal and public archives to explore issues faced by contemporary Indigenous peoples, framed within the ongoing impact of colonisation in Australia. Through her work, she aspires to give “a voice to the voiceless, making the invisible visible”, uncovering hidden, often denied stories and visual representations, eliciting the power of critical, performative, Indigenous autoethnography methodologies.
Destiny Deacon’s heritage is the Erub/Mer people of Torres Strait Islands and Kugu people of Cape York. She has been exhibiting her photography, video and installation works both nationally and internationally since the 1990’s. Her contemporary practice is inherently performative and innately political. Partly autobiographical and partly fictitious, her sharp, witty and stylised compositions metaphorically deal with historical issues and contemporary Aboriginal life, using members of her family, friends to pose for the camera along with a variety of dolls. Deacon’s works are informed by personal experience and the mass media – used as a tool to examine and communicate the wide discrepancies between the representation of Aboriginal people by the white Australian population and the reality of contemporary Aboriginal life.
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, born at Lilla Creek Station, near Finke (Aputula). As a child, Bruce was taken from his mother and raised in Colebrook Home, at Quorn, South Australia. Robert’s grandmother was Miriam Khan (dec.) and she was born at Henbury Station. One of her husbands was James Inkamala (dec.) and he was from Ntaria 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, Payrozza, Partimah, Peshwah, Priayangka and Zedekiah Fielding. Robert’s wife Kaye is of Torres Strait/Palm Island 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. For Fielding, his contemporary practice is a way for him to connect to his heritage and his family and a chance to explore a possible future of forgiveness not anger. 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 recent explorations of photography, print making and new media draw inspiration from his experience growing up across two very different cultures – Western and Aboriginal.
“Monomeeth mirambeena n’yaalingo mirambeek Wadawurrung, dullallally baggarook Deanne. Hi my name is Deanne and I am a Proud Wadawurrung woman, living on Country in Ballarat”.
Deanne Gilson is an award-winning multi-media artist working in paint, clay, photo-media, drawing and sculptural installations. 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. In recent work, she reclaims traditional knowledge by reflecting the colonial gaze back and challenging Western portrayals of Aboriginal people, especially the roles of the matriarchal women in her family play in keeping family together throughout the colonisation period. Her artworks are constantly being influenced by the changing social and political environment that have brought about loss of family, children, culture, identity, ceremonies and traditional artefact and adornment making, songs, dance and language. Gilson 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 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Her artwork demonstrates ways in which Aboriginal women can form new connections to culture through visual art practices in aim of strengthening family connections and not only keeping, but renewing traditional Women’s Business visually and socially.
Jody Haines is a Palawa woman and descendant of Mannalargenna originating from Tasmania’s North West Coast. Prior to working with the visual, Haines initially 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 – Photography – and went on to study a Bachelor of Photography at Griffith University. Afterward Jody embarked on her visual career as a Photographer, Artist and Curator incorporating both her love of sound and image in her work. Haines is Currently studying a Masters of Art Art in Public Space at RMIT and lives and works on the lands of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung peoples.
Dianne Jones is an emerging photo media artist based in Melbourne. Her contemporary practice investigates the representation inverts the accepted view of Australian art history by repositioning the representations of Indigenous people by placing them into iconic Australian artistic images, or re-telling historical stories from and Indigenous perspective. Jones’ work has been featured in a number of 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 visual art research project.
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 raised 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 her works in aim of opening-up digital and 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.
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.
Steven Rhall is an emerging contemporary artist and Taungurung man born on Wathaurong 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. Often working performatively, and known for his photographic practice, Rhall incorporates 2D media within the 3D space – his installations tend to 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. Tylor is creating new work for the Tell exhibition in collaboration with contemporary artist Laura Wills.
Wills 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