Saying No: Reconciling Spirituality and Resistance in Indigenous Australian Art
On view: August 11 – November 6, 2011
Press Preview: September 22, 2011 6:00-7:00 PM
Opening Reception: September 22, 2011 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Guest curated by Bindi Cole
The word “No” does not exist in the majority of the over 200 Australian Aboriginal languages, and where it does exist, this powerful word is reserved for the elders and is used with great care and ceremony. As these languages reach the brink of extinction, indigenous Australian artists are using contemporary art to assert their identity and culture and say no to racism, land theft and colonialism in an urban world. With this, MoCADA announces the opening of the highly anticipated international group exhibition entitled, Saying No: Reconciling Spirituality and Resistance in Indigenous Australian Art.
The exhibition is guest curated by Bindi Cole, and will be on view from August 11 through November 6, 2011 in the museum’s main gallery at the James E. Davis 80 Arts Building in Brooklyn, New York. Saying No features sculpture, installation, painting, photography, video and mixed media works that highlight the use of visual art as a form of social and political protest in the current Australian Aboriginal struggle for the right to representation.
This is the first international group exhibition of this kind to debut in New York City and the United States. The show will feature an array of works in a variety of media from a group of contemporary, indigenous, Australian-based artists. The opening reception will take place at MoCADA on September 22 from 7-9PM. The reception is free and open to the public. A press preview will be held on the same evening from 6-7PM.
Bindi Cole, the exhibition’s curator states, “The role of a contemporary Aboriginal artist, in my opinion, is to provoke.” The indigenous population has been subject to state sanctioned land displacement, ethnic cleansing and segregation – impoverishing their quality of life and relegating their culture to the margins of Australian society. Only recently has the government taken steps to apologize for the inhumane systems of oppression inflicted upon Australia’s native peoples. Saying No was organized through extensive travel between Australia and New York City to increase the visibility of contemporary Aboriginal artists and to reaffirm artistic practice as a site for civil dissonance for disenfranchised populations around the world.
Exhibiting artists include Tony Albert, Daniel Boyd, Maree Clarke, Bindi Cole, Vicki Couzens, Fiona Foley, James Henry & Oliver Winter-Irving, Dennis Nona, Zane Saunders and Yhonnie Scarce.
About the Curator
Bindi Cole is a Melbourne based award-winning photographer and artist of Wathaurung and Australian heritage. Cole’s work exposes the latent and unspoken power dynamics of Australian 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 2011, Cole appeared nationally on Australian television (ABC) in the documentary, EYE that traced her journey creating a series of stylized portraits of a community of Aboriginal transgender women called the Sistagirls.
In 2009, Cole won the Victorian Indigenous Art Award and has been a finalist in numerous art awards including the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards and the William and Winifred Bowness Photography Prize. Recent projects include curating Nyah-bunyar (Temple) at the Arts Centre as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival, projecting Whitewash onto the water wall at the National Gallery of Victoria, Not Really Aboriginal at the Centre for Contemporary Photography, Just Can’t Get Enough at Linden Gallery, A Time Like This at the Victorian College of the Arts Margaret Lawrence Gallery and Post Us at Boscia Galleries. In 2004, Cole completed a Diploma in Applied Photography at Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE (NMIT), and in 2008 she commenced a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Fine Arts) at Ballarat University. Cole is currently represented by Nellie Castan Gallery.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the museum will offer 8 public programs, all free and open to the public:
July 21 – August 11: Museum hours – Saying No Film Festival, MoCADA
August 11: 7:00-9:00pm – Screening of art + soul at Big Screen Plaza, btwn 29th & 30th St at 6th Ave, NYC
September 22: 9:30-10:00am – Interview with curator and artist Bindi Cole on First Voices Indigenous Radio, tune in to WBAI 99.5FM in New York
September 24: 1:00 – 3:00pm – Children’s storytelling program with Dr. Joyce Duncan, MoCADA
September 29: 7:00-9:00pm – Curator’s Talk with Bindi Cole, MoCADA
October 6: 6:00-7:00pm – Guided exhibition tour with curator Bindi Cole, MoCADA
October 8: 1:00-2:00pm – Guided exhibition tour with curator Bindi Cole, MoCADA
October 29: 1:00-3:00pm – Children’s art making program, MoCADA