A Guide to First Nations Artists at PHOTO 2022
For over 60,000 years, Indigenous arts and culture have thrived on this sacred land. PHOTO 2022 is proud to centre First Nations perspectives—both in galleries and at some of Melbourne’s most iconic public spaces—in a festival-wide exploration of the contemporary human condition.
On the steps of the Old Treasury Building, you’ll find Kulin Generations, James Henry’s series of commissioned portraits of Kulin Nation Elders with their descendants on country, accompanied by recorded interviews offering an insight into the ways Elders connect with younger generations.
Christian Thompson AO brings his Flower Wall series together for the first time on the site of the Old Melbourne Gaol, alongside a newly commissioned work: Being Human Human Being. These images see the artist’s own body disappear into a constellations of flowers, set to a new soundscape of Thompson singing in Bidjara, his mother tongue.
Along Southbank Promenade, the Birrarung Lightboxes feature Naomi Hobson’s series Adolescent Wonderland which tells the stories of young Aboriginal people living on the Coen River in Cape York Peninsula, and Dean Cross’s new commission based on a series of polaroids that are intimate, nostalgic and inescapably political. At Anna Schwartz Gallery, Warwick Thornton’s bold video Meth Kelly explores how Australia’s colonial frontier narrative has been shaped by the imaginary heroic actions of the cult figure Ned Kelly. And nearby at Tolarno Galleries, Danie Mellor presents redux exploring how the splintered narratives of past and present experiences into a compelling arrangement of large intimately scaled photographic works, that pay witness to changes that have unfolded in and on our landscapes.
At CCP Martine Gutierrez, a first-generation artist of indigenous, descent subverts conventional ideals of beauty to reveal how deeply sexism, racism, transphobia and other biases are embedded in our culture and Canadian First Nations artist Dana Claxton presents Headdress in Collingwood Yards, exploring generations of womxn’s beadwork, bringing traditional methods to strikingly contemporary looks. Also at Collingwood Yards, don’t miss new work by Alan Stewart and Jemima Wyman.
At Monash Gallery of Art, works from nine artists come together in Old Ways, New Ways to explore how photography can be a container, a mouthpiece, a medium of record and a tool for considering and enlivening the ways of the past through the eyes of the present. In regional Victoria, Gail Harradine has collaborated with Belinda Eckermann to create a new series on display at Horsham Regional Art Gallery that gives form to the invisible and unseen personal, familial, community narrative of connection to landscape.
Work that also features First Nations themes includes large-scale banners outside Melbourne Town Hall, with Hannah Brontë’s Divinely Protected exploring the connection between motherhood and nature on Yugambeh Country. And at Prahran Market, Misha Vallejo Prut brings us Secret Sarayaku, the story of the Kichwa people of the Ecuadorian Amazon Rainforest.