Sovereignty is a major new exhibition focusing upon contemporary art of First Nations peoples of South East Australia, alongside keynote historical works, to explore culturally and linguistically diverse narratives of self-determination, identity, sovereignty and resistance.
Taking the example of Ngurungaeta (Elder) and Wurundjeri leader William Barak (c. 1824–1903) as a model—in particular Barak’s role as an artist, activist, leader, diplomat and translator—the exhibition presents the vibrant and diverse visual art and culture of the continuous and distinct nations, language groups and communities of Victoria’s sovereign, Indigenous peoples.
Bringing together new commissions, recent and historical works by over 30 artists, Sovereignty is structured around a set of practices and relationships in which art and society, community and family, history and politics are inextricably connected. A diverse range of discursive and thematic contexts are elaborated: the celebration and assertion of cultural identity and resistance; the significance and inter-connectedness of country, people and place; the renewal and re-inscription of cultural languages and practices; the importance of matriarchal culture and wisdom; the dynamic relations between activism and aesthetics; and a playfulness with language and signs in contemporary society.
Sovereignty provides an opportunity to engage with critical historical and contemporary issues in Australian society. The exhibition takes place against a backdrop of cultural, political and historical debates related to questions of colonialism and de-colonisation, constitutional recognition, sovereignty and treaty. Sovereignty is conceived as a platform for Indigenous community expression, and will be accompanied by an extensive program of talks, forums, screenings, performances, workshops, education programs and events.
Curators: Paola Balla and Max Delany
Artists: Brook Andrew, William Barak, Lisa Bellear, Jim Berg, Briggs, Trevor 'Turbo' Brown, Maree Clarke, Megan Cope, Amiel Courtin-Wilson and Jack Charles, Vicky Couzens, Destiny Deacon and Virginia Fraser, Marlene Gilson, Korin Gamadji Institute, Brian Martin, Bruce McGuinness, Kent Morris, Clinton Nain, Glenda Nicholls, Mandy Nicholson, Bill Onus, Steaphan Paton, Bronwyn Razem, Reko Rennie, Steven Rhall, Yhonnie Scarce, Peter Waples-Crowe, Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR), Lucy Williams-Connelly
Sovereignty is supported by Creative Victoria (Major Partner); King & Wilson, Dulux, Jackson Clements Burrows Architects and Colour Factory (Exhibition Partners), and JCDecaux (Media Partner).