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Australia: “Rivers still flow under concrete”

Australia: “Rivers still flow under concrete”

After the historic failure of a referendum to recognize First Peoples through the Constitution, when artist Archie Moore won the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, the contemporary Aboriginal art scene was engaged in an increasingly fragmented Australian society. Panorama.

History repeats itself. » This assertion is repeated three times on one of the picture rails of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) in Melbourne. This 2022 work by 43-year-old Tony Albert was created from “Aboriginalia,” these dubious kitsch pieces of objects mass-produced in the 1930s-1960s that suggest an Aboriginal identity. History repeats itself Thus questioning the racial appropriation of Aboriginal representations in Australian popular culture. Looking at these outrageous caricatures, the French gaze cannot help but recall the Senegalese rifleman “Y'a bon Banania,” a tragic symbol of colonial history that France is still struggling to explore.

Australian audiences will consider a referendum on October 14, 2023, with a large “No” vote (61%) rejecting a proposed change to the constitution that would have allowed First Peoples and their “voice” to be recognized. Parliament. The political backlash further fractures a nation divided over the issue. For their part, Aboriginal artists and cultural representatives rarely recover from this decision, bearing witness to the systemic racism of a multicultural society. The last referendum in 1967, with 91% support, made it possible to elevate Aborigines to citizen status – when they were considered under the 1901 Constitution. Fauna and Flora “.

Sixty years later, First Peoples are still widely discriminated against and suffer from serious social ills: difficulty accessing education, high rates of alcoholism and incarceration, and life expectancy below the national average. However, Aboriginal culture seems to be a tool of union and resistance for all generations of artists, rather than a means of transmitting an ancestral history rejected by colonialism.

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Is the museum a legitimate place for protest?

At the NGV, Tony Albert's work is part of a new display of First Nations artists' collections. Called “Vurta Marra” (“Many Gathering”, in the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung language), the presentation is set to begin in late 2023 and features an eclectic ensemble. ” The NGV has been open for 160 years and has been collecting the works of First Nations since 1946.Miles Russell-Cook, Chief Curator of Australian and First Nations Art explains. The antidote to absence is presence. This subject covers cultural…