CULTURE WARRIORS: National Indigenous Art Triennial
13 October 2007 – 10 February 2008
The National Gallery of Australia is delighted to be holding the inaugural National Indigenous Art Triennial: CULTURE WARRIORS, which will open on 12 October 2007, coinciding with the Gallery’s 25th birthday celebrations and will be on display for four months. This innovative exhibition is expected to become a permanent event in the Australian and international art calendar. Works selected for CULTURE WARRIORS: National Indigenous Art Triennial have been created within the past three years resulting in a highly considered snapshot of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art/cultural practice. Selection by the Curator will be by invitation only.
CULTURE WARRIORS: National Indigenous Art Triennial will include works that represent a diversity of regions throughout Australia with every state and territory represented, and will demonstrate the incredible range of contemporary Indigenous art practice. It will include media encompassing painting on canvas and bark, sculpture, textiles, weaving, new media, photo-media, print-making, and installation work. This will be the first national survey show of contemporary Indigenous art at the National Gallery of Australia since Flash Pictures in 1991. The initiation of this event will enable a far more comprehensive and continuous overview of current Indigenous art practice, every three years, with the focus on a concise survey on individual artists’ works, brought together under a scholarly thematic context.
For the inaugural exhibition thirty-one artists have been selected, with up to five works from each artist. The Gallery anticipates that, as the exhibition is profiling the finest contemporary Indigenous art, works in the exhibition will be acquired for the national collection. Importantly, CULTURE WARRIORS: National Indigenous Art Triennial also coincides with the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum (Aboriginals), whereby the majority of non-Indigenous Australians (90.77%) voted overwhelmingly to include Indigenous Australians on the census to be considered as citizens. It is also the 50th anniversary of NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) and these anniversaries will provide inspiration for the exhibition’s thematic context.
To ensure that each exhibition is dynamic and stimulating a different Indigenous guest curator will curate the Triennial every three years, with the inaugural CULTURE WARRIORS: National Indigenous Art Triennial to be curated by Brenda L Croft, Senior Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, National Gallery of Australia. This major new multi-arts strategic initiative will enable the skills development of Indigenous curators, for whom such opportunities are currently limited. This would allow the Gallery to develop Indigenous curators throughout the country and also eventually invite international Indigenous curators from the Pacific and other regions.
The Triennial will fulfil the need for a fully curated exhibition of outstanding quality that profiles the work of contemporary Indigenous art across Australia. The National Gallery considers it necessary to include such an event on the artistic calendar, considering the few opportunities available to showcase some of Australia’s leading artists, with the demise of contemporary art events such as the Moët et Chandon Fellowship, and Australian Perspecta among others, in the past decade.
International Art Museums have shown incredible interest in contemporary Indigenous art from Australia recently, including in the prestigious Australian Indigenous Art Commission (AIAC) at the new Musée du quai Branly in Paris in June 2006. At present the most widely acknowledged survey of contemporary Indigenous Australian art is the highly popular annual Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award, held at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin each August.
However, the Telstra is not a curated exhibition and generally includes over 100 artists, with no thematic content other than being an annual showcase of works of art by Indigenous artists. Therefore, each National Indigenous Art Triennial will be an important complement to existing annual, biennial and triennial visual arts events. A scholarly full-colour publication will accompany the exhibition and will be a significant publication that will exist independently of the exhibition.
Artists: Vernon AH KEE, Jean Baptiste APUATIMI, Jimmy BAKER, Maringka BAKER, Richard BELL, Jan BILLYCAN, Daniel BOYD, Trevor (Turbo) BROWN, Christine CHRISTOPHERSEN, Destiny DEACON in collaboration with Virginia FRASER, Julie DOWLING, Philip GUDTHAYKUDTHAY, Treahna HAMM, Gordon HOOKEY, Anniebell MARRNGAMARRNGA, John MAWURNDJUL, Ricky MAYNARD, Danie MELLOR, Lofty Bardayal NADJAMERREK, Doreen REID NAKAMARRA, Dennis NONA, Arthur Koo’ekka PAMBEGAN Jnr, Christopher PEASE, Shane PICKETT, Elaine RUSSELL, Christian THOMPSON, Judy WATSON, HJ WEDGE, Owen YALANDJA, Gulumbu YUNUPINGU.
Brenda L Croft
Senior Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art
National Gallery of Australia