Living Black


Indigenous Australian art has long been associated with traditional dot paintings. Such customary methods of art practice can be viewed as a system of keeping alive a culture otherwise threatened by assimilation. Contemporary Aboriginal artists are now charting new territory, creating works based in photo-media, video and film. The documentary nature of these mediums enhances a political agenda and evades ethnographic pigeonholing. The works displayed within Living Black have been created entirely from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, and consist of both traditional and contemporary artforms.

Brenda L. Croft’s poignant ilfochrome photography reflects her experiences growing up in suburban Australia with an Aboriginal father and Caucasian mother. Other works of hers on display narrate her father’s plight as a victim of the Stolen Generation. At the age of two he was taken from his family due to government policy and raised in a Christian run missionary. Alongside Croft’s works are those by Tony Albert, Daniel Boyd, Sally Morgan and Richard Bell, all of whom steer away from what can be perceived as traditional Aboriginal art.

Located within the Yiribana exhibition space of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the room is devoted to hosting indigenous art exhibitions. Its positioning within one of Australiaís most renowned galleries creates a level of accessibility, which is somewhat marred by its placement in the basement of the gallery.