aboriginal art

18th Biennale of Sydney

July 7, 2012
Liu Zhuoquan: Where are you? (2012) MCA installation

“Between belief in Nature and belief in politics, one has to choose,” writes French sociologist, Bruno Latour, in the stand-out essay in this year’s Biennale catalogue. We have a perfect demonstration of this principle in the hysterical debate about a carbon price. While Nature is forever, politics is an exercise in short-term, strategic thinking that … More


Parallel Collisions: The 2012 Adelaide Biennial

March 10, 2012
Tim Silver, 'Untitled' (object), 2011-12.

“We love language,” confessed the curators of Parallel Collisions: the 12th Adelaide Biennial. This may not sound controversial – for the purposes of communication it’s very useful. It was only as I read through the boxed, brick-heavy catalogue for this exhibition that I began to feel Natasha Bullock and Alexie Glass-Kantor may love language not … More


Din Q. Lê: Erasure, Cairns Indigenous Art Fair 2011

August 27, 2011
Dinh Q. Lê Erasure, 2011 digital video (still) Courtesy the artist and Sàn Art Independent Artist Space, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

It was astonishing to learn that in a recent opinion poll Australians rated border protection as a more important issue than health, education, transport or housing. This is one of those statistical miracles that testify to our growing sense of social paranoia and the power of political scare campaigns. The facts are well known but … More


Tonsorial philosophy

August 26, 2011
Gunybi's installation from the WAIAA

My barber is a philosopher. By this, I don’t mean to compare him to those hairdressers who style themselves “creative artists working in the medium of hair”. Dimitri Kokinelis, barber of Gardeners Road, Rosebery, is a genuine thinker who devotes his time between haircuts to pondering questions of truth, wisdom, justice and nature. He has … More


Laverty 2, Newcastle Region Art Gallery

May 28, 2011
William Robinson, The sand ziggurat, Kingscliff (1995) 137.5 x 183.0 cm oil on canvas

All the talk this week has been about the Kaldor collection. This high-profile donation has prompted a massive operation on the belly of the Art Gallery of NSW, with architect, Andrew Andersens, playing a familiar role as the leading cosmetic surgeon of Australian museums. The makeover has transformed a dingy storage area into an elegant, … More


National Gallery of Australia: A New Extension

October 23, 2010
New Indigenous galleries & entrance project

Nobody in Australia is more experienced in the ways of gallery building than Andrew Andersons, the chief architect of the new wing at the National Gallery of Australia. Although he is a super professional, Andersons has often been criticised by other architects who find his buildings prosaic, deficient in detail and artistry. To be fair, … More


Fiona Foley

January 9, 2010
Fiona Foley, Annihilation of the Blacks, 1986, wood, synthetic polymer paint, feathers, string 278 x 300 x 60 cm

Fiona Foley is an artist who has benefited from being in the right place at the right time. Having begun exhibiting in the mid-1980s, she is young enough to have missed the great ideological battles that took place in the art of the sixties and seventies. She never had to worry about edges and picture … More


Tommy Watson & the politics of the indigenous art market

January 1, 2010

Yannima Tommy Watson is said to have painted his first picture in 2001, in the community of Irrunytju, twelve kilometers south-west of the tri-border, where South Australia meets Western Australia and the Northern Territory. The white man’s borders don’t mean much to the inhabitants of this remote settlement, also known as Wingellina, but it is … More


Gunybi Ganambarr

November 7, 2009
Gunybi Ganambarr, Munbi, 2009, natural earth pigments on shaped & incised bark, 105 x 90 cm

As colonial values spread across the continent in the nineteenth century it was widely believed that the first Australians were doomed to disappear. This was a fixed idea even for pioneering anthropologists such as Baldwin Spencer, who spent the year 1901-02 touring the outback, visiting the inhabitants of those remote regions. For Spencer and his … More


Gunybi Ganambarr

September 1, 2009

In many people’s minds there could be no art-form less open to change than bark painting. It is one of the world’s oldest living forms of artistic expression, probably dating as far back as those rock paintings done 40,000 years ago. Yet bark painting is also one of the abiding paradoxes of contemporary art, for … More