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