Damien Shen: On the Fabric of the Ngarrindjeri Body

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Live Events, Media Archive, Oceania on 2016-09-18 22:23Z by Steven

Damien Shen: On the Fabric of the Ngarrindjeri Body

Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia
400 Worrell Drive
Peter Jefferson Place
Charlottesville, Virginia 22911
September 2016

Damien Shen

The only museum in the United States dedicated to the exhibition and study of Australian Aboriginal Art

September 9 – December 18, 2016

On the Fabric of the Ngarrindjeri Body is an exhibition of drawings, prints and photographs by artist Damien Shen (Ngarrindjeri, Chinese). Shen began unearthing stories of his Aboriginal ancestry after the death of his grandmother. While researching historical records, he discovered that the skeletal remains of more than 500 Ngarrindjeri people had been stolen by an Australian coroner and sent to a scientist in Scotland for the purpose of comparative anatomy. Shen has drawn portraits of both men, along with that of Boorborrowie, a Ngarriindjeri man whose remains were later repatriated to Australia. Through these works, Shen exposes this buried history and questions the acclaim given to men of science.

Believing that the removal and scientific analysis of human remains divorces the body from its spirit, Shen uses his art practice to “reintroduce the spirit.” The exhibition takes its title from an etching in which Shen has superimposed customary Ngarrindjeri body paint designs onto a figure drawn in the style of 16th century European anatomical drawings. In drawing these designs, which are also shown in the photographs of Shen being painted for the first time, the artist celebrates the unity of the spirit and body in Ngarrindjeri culture…

For more information, click here.

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Profile: Damien Shen

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Oceania on 2016-09-14 23:37Z by Steven

Profile: Damien Shen

The Adelaide Review
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Jane Llewellyn

Damien Shen

While Damien Shen was on a two-week trip exploring Australia’s major galleries, it occurred to him that art is about telling stories.

“Creating art is not just about technical ability, it’s about the story and it’s also about how you express the story… if you can pull all those things together you can reach the next level,” Shen explains.

To reach the next level, Shen is looking at his own story and drawing on it in his work. As he nears 40 years of age, Shen is approaching his practice with a newfound maturity that wasn’t available to him before.

“It’s been such a rapid progression,” he says.

“It was almost meant to happen this late. If it happened any earlier I would have been too immature.”…

…In the midst of the course, Shen’s Aboriginal grandmother passed away and he started considering his family history – he is Chinese/Aboriginal – and decided he wanted to document it. From there things happened quickly for Shen. He started drawing again, held his first exhibition (Drawing on the Heroes Who Shape Us at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Artspace Gallery), and won the NAIDOC South Australian Artist of the Year award…

Read the entire article here.

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“I’m Aboriginal. I’m Just Not The Aboriginal You Expect Me To Me.” // REVIEW OF “Am I Black Enough For You?” By Anita Heiss #AWW2016

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Oceania on 2016-08-17 02:31Z by Steven

“I’m Aboriginal. I’m Just Not The Aboriginal You Expect Me To Me.” // REVIEW OF “Am I Black Enough For You?” By Anita Heiss #AWW2016

A Keyboard and An Open Mind: The Blog of Avid Reader and Writer, Emily Witt

Emily Witt

Title: Am I Black Enough For You?
Author: Anita Heiss
Genre: Memoir/Non-fiction
Date Read: 01/08/2016 – 09/08/2016
Rating: ★★★★

Normally memoirs don’t really get more than three stars from me. It’s not that they’re terrible, just that they’re not a genre I have much interest in, so even if I find the writer interesting, that’s not necessarily the case for the writing itself. Fortunately, I found Anita Heiss’ memoir to be thought-provoking and easy to read, and it helped me to understand how our Aboriginal Australians form their identity.

In 2009, Anita Heiss found herself as one of seventeen successful Aboriginal people targeted by “journalist” (I use that term loosely) Andrew Bolt, who accused them in his nationally-distributed newspaper column, as well as online, of “choosing” to identify as Aboriginal to further their careers. Four of these Aboriginal people took Bolt, and the Herald and Weekly Times to court, arguing that he had breached the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA). They won the case…

Read the entire review here.

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Secrets of Nation

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, Oceania, United States, Women on 2016-07-26 01:20Z by Steven

Secrets of Nation

Inside Story

Ann McGrath, Professor of History, Director of the Australian Centre for Indigenous History
Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Middle ground: detail from Bartering for a Bride, or The Trappers Bride, by Alfred Jacob Miller, c. 1845. Wikipedia Commons

The buried secrets of Australia’s frontier share features with encounters in the United States, writes Ann McGrath

By the 1960s, when I was growing up there, Queensland had become skilled at burying the Aboriginal past, and Queenslanders spoke about its traces in hushed tones. As a child, I wondered why. I recall a particular day when my grandfather Joe whispered that some of his neighbours had a “touch of the tarbrush.” “What does that mean?” I had no clue. He told me that it meant Aboriginal ancestry. I was flummoxed by these comments, which seemed out of character. A tram driver for most of his working life, Joe had refused promotion because the new job would have involved punishing people who could not afford to pay. A son of the Great Depression, he respected hardworking men and women. I had never before heard him say anything that sounded discriminatory or racist.

Only after years of archival research into Australian history did I realise why it was necessary to speak about such topics in a whisper. Unions between Aboriginal women and white men were against the law. You did not want the police to hear. You did not want your neighbours to suffer the shame and the punishment of fines or incarceration. Where Joe grew up in north Queensland, white men went to jail for cohabiting with Aboriginal women. Worse, with marriage prohibited and Aboriginal marriage law not recognised, their children were classed as “illegitimate.” Aboriginal wives and children were taken away.

Keeping these “secrets of nation” as family secrets became common sense, and hence a deeply ingrained practice. Not only had Aboriginal people supposedly just “gone” from the urban and rural landscape with no heroic battles, but according to what we were taught in primary school, it was as if they had never even shared the same spaces. Let alone fallen in love, married, and loved their children.

When I became a historian, I started to investigate the history of race and colonialism, and eventually came to the topic of intermarriage across colonising boundaries. The history of love, above and beyond other themes, seemed to promise gendered clues that might help people understand what lay beneath the surface of history, clues to buried, intimate secrets – the private stuff that makes our nations tick…

Read the entire article here.

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Hybrid by Robert Wood

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, Oceania, Passing on 2016-06-15 16:25Z by Steven

Hybrid by Robert Wood

Mascara Literary Review

Robert Wood

Robert Wood grew up in a multicultural household in Perth. He holds degrees from the Australian National University and the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a National Undergraduate Scholar and a Benjamin Franklin Fellow respectively. He has edited for Margaret River Press, Wild Dingo Press and Overland, and volunteered for the Small Press Network, Philadelphia Fringe Festival and Books through Bars. He has published work in literary journals such as Southerly, Plumwood Mountain and Counterpunch and a academic journals including Foucault Studies, JASAL and Journal of Poetics Research. He currently hosts a reading and conversation series at The School of Life and is a regular contributor to Cultural Weekly. His next book, heart-teeth, is due out from Electio Editions later this year.

What is the hybrid to do?

I have passed as a white man for most of my life. I have a name – Robert Wood – that is invisible in the hegemonic Anglo society of suburban Australia. I have a body that if a little tanned, a little hook nosed, a little ‘Latin’ or ‘Mediterranean’, is nevertheless unthreateningly, benignly unnoticeable. I present in dress and language, in what Pierre Bourdieu called habitus, as white. But I am also a person of colour. My mother is brown. She is Malayalee from Kerala in South India. Although there are degrees of complexity and complexion in the vales and folds of family history, through her I participate in a network of colouredness. Colouredness means both the aesthetic reality of the body itself, how we look, and the political meaning of bodies, how we are represented. In other words my mother’s skin is literally not ‘white’ (or for that matter ‘pink’, ‘yellow’ or ‘black’) and we have a shared history of colonial oppression that is racially based, which involves the British, the Portugese and northern India…

Read the entire article here.

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Amrita Hepi’s New Dance Collab Explores Authenticity, Race & The Politics Of Passing

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Oceania, Passing, Women on 2016-06-01 18:06Z by Steven

Amrita Hepi’s New Dance Collab Explores Authenticity, Race & The Politics Of Passing

Paddington, New South Wales, Australia

Jerico Mandybur

Local hero Amrita Hepi is showcasing her new dance piece ‘Passing’ — with costumes by Honey Long and sound by Laverne of Black Vanilla — alongside Jahra Rager at Next Wave Festival this week. To celebrate, we linked her up with another one of our fave woke ladies, Jerico Mandybur, and they chatted through identity, the WOC diaspora and the politics of passing.

Get to know the story behind the stellar performance piece below (before you make the good life choice to head along to Next Wave and see it IRL).

Jerico Mandybur: Hey! So it’s called ‘Passing’, can you talk to me about what naming it that means, and basically what the concept of “passing” means in relation to the work?

Amrita Hepi: Well, we came up with the idea of naming it ‘Passing’, because the work itself kind of matched bodies under pressure. So the idea of women of colour and their intersections, and what it means to be of many world races and titles, and I guess when you’re “passing” there’s always this kind of fear of inauthenticity, which is something that’s very human that we all feel. But in relation to the work, it was just feeling like we were constantly only just passing, and there was this fear of almost like being discovered as something other than what we were. Does that make sense? [Laughs]…

Read the entire interview here.

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Amrita Hepi interview

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, Oceania, Passing on 2016-05-24 19:09Z by Steven

Amrita Hepi interview

Time Out Sydney

Dee Jefferson, Arts & Culture Editor

Sydney knows – and loves – Amrita for her Hollaback nights and Beyoncé dance classes, but her latest project is far more fierce

Amrita Hepi was in the final creative phase of her dance-theatre work Passing, with New Zealand-born dancer and spoken-word artist Jahra Wasasala, when Beyoncé dropped her first Lemonade single and film clip, ‘Formation’.

“I was like man… What the!? This is everything we’re going through right now. And people were saying ‘How dare she have a political statement? She’s not even that black! She dyes her hair blonde!’.’”…

Passing explores identity from the perspective of two women who not only have mixed cultural heritage, but whose dance practice spans genres as far apart as classical ballet, contemporary Indigenous choreography and dance hall…

Read the entire interview here.

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Black Velvet: redefining and celebrating Indigenous Australian women in art

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, Oceania, Women on 2016-05-19 01:47Z by Steven

Black Velvet: redefining and celebrating Indigenous Australian women in art

The Conversation (US Pilot)

Sandra Phillips, Lecturer
Creative Writing and Literary Studies, School of Media, Entertainment and Creative Arts, Creative Industries Faculty
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

*Warning: This article contains graphic language that may upset some readers, while Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers should be aware that it may contain images, voices or names of deceased people.

With her first solo exhibition, artist Boneta-Marie Mabo has been inspired by the State Library of Queensland’s collections to create new works that speak back to colonial representations of Indigenous womanhood.

She found portraits of Indigenous women without any name, or with labels such as “black velvet” or “gin”; objects, rather than women. Men on the frontier sought to control Aboriginal lands as well as women’s bodies – with or without consent.

The 2005 documentary Pioneers of Love discusses the colonial fetish for Indigenous women.

Revered author Henry Lawson was one of the first to popularise the phrase ‘black velvet’. It described the soft, smooth skin of Aboriginal women – or ‘gins’, as they were referred to then. The men who associated with Aboriginal women were known as ‘gin jockeys’. And their children were often referred to as ‘burnt corks’. – Watch from 1:52 of this clip of the documentary.

But Boneta-Marie’s exhibition, Black Velvet: your label, is more than a response to the past. It’s also about the struggle not to let others define our identity. And it’s a celebration of Indigenous women today, including Boneta-Marie’s grandmother, activist and Order of Australia winner Bonita Mabo

Read the entire article here.

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Raising mixed race kids

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Oceania on 2016-05-01 00:13Z by Steven

Raising mixed race kids

Special Broadcasting Service Corporation
Melbourne, Australia

Ian Rose

The prospect of a family holiday has Ian Rose reflecting on the pleasures of bringing up mixed-race children, and the responsibility to keep them in touch with both cultures.

Let’s get this out there straight away. I am a pom. An unreconstructed, unapologetic, dyed-in-the-wool Englishman. I take tea in the morning, consider any code of football using a non-round ball to be knuckle-headed frippery, and I will automatically apologise if you stand on my foot.

Eight years and counting down-under has not made the slightest dent in my pomminess.

I was brought here by the love of an endlessly patient Vietnamese-Australian woman, a love that has borne hybrid fruit in the form of two children, now aged an exhausting five and six. They’re Aussie. But they’re English, too. And Vietnamese.

So this year, to connect them with that side of their heritage, we’ve decided to take a family holiday to Vietnam.

“Hey, kids,” I announce at the dinner table, partly to distract the boy from his greens.

“Guess where we’re going on holiday? To Vietnam! Yaaaaay!”

My daughter’s face falls into a gurn of displeasure.

“Awww,” she laments, “why can’t we go to England?”…

Read the entire article here.

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An Heir to a Tribe’s Culture Ensures Its Language Is Not Forgotten

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Native Americans/First Nation, Oceania on 2016-04-11 02:11Z by Steven

An Heir to a Tribe’s Culture Ensures Its Language Is Not Forgotten

The Saturday Profile
The New York Times

Michelle Innis

Stan Grant, a Wiradjuri elder, at his home in Narrandera, Australia. Mr. Grant was an author of “A New Wiradjuri Dictionary,” after years of advocating to preserve the Wiradjuri language.
Credit Adam Ferguson for The New York Times

NARRANDERA, AustraliaStan Grant, crudely tattooed in a way that hints at the petty crime and drunken brawls of his youth, clasped gnarly hands across his round belly and murmured: “birrangbirrang, birrangbirrang.”

Mr. Grant had spotted a small kingfisher, or birrangbirrang in Wiradjuri, as it swooped low over the Murrumbidgee River in the oppressive summer heat, calling to its mate.

Slipping back into English, he spoke over the whirring of cicadas in the river red gum trees that line the sandy banks: “It is smaller than a kookaburra. Its mate will be nearby.”

Mr. Grant, 75, is an elder of Australia’s second-largest Aboriginal tribe, the Wiradjuri, who roamed most of central New South Wales before white farmers surged inland in the early 1800s.

Until recently, he was one of only a handful of people still speaking the tribal language, also called Wiradjuri (pronounced wi-RAD-jury), which nearly died out in the 20th century, when Aboriginals could be jailed for speaking their native tongue in public.

“You are nobody without language,” Mr. Grant said. “The world does not respect a person who does not have language.”…

…Mr. Grant was probably 8 or 9 years old the night a local policeman heard his grandfather, Wilfred Johnson, and locked him up. But he does not recall a sense of alarm.

“He was an elegant man,” he said of Mr. Johnson. “He was beautifully dressed, usually in a coat and hat. But he was black. So it wasn’t the first time he had spent the night in jail.”

After the arrest, Mr. Johnson, who spoke seven languages, refused to speak Wiradjuri in public…

Read the entire article here.

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