Welcoming visitors, but they don’t leave…


Oh, I’m sure you could have heard the proverbial pin drop…

At the exhibition opening, amid endless glasses of chenin blanc, the guests were fortunate enough to witness a traditional kaurna smoking. Local elder Uncle Lewis O’Brien then welcomed artists, curators and guests in Kaurna Language to stop (the) gap, an international exhibition of indigenous media arts, before adding a brief footnote in English: “We have been welcoming visitors to our land for thousands of years. The problem is we’ve never told them to go home.” His comment met a general silence.


A similar frankness runs through curator Brenda L Croft’s introductory essay in the exhibition catalogue. In an aggressive and confessional style Croft outlined her infuriation at being Indigenous and intelligent in a place as heart-poundingly and mind-numbingly stupid as mainstream Australia, where even the most elementary reflection on colonisation and the marginalization of Indigenous Australians is consistently and willfully avoided. It was an angry and perhaps reckless decision to share such unrestrained thoughts. For daring to express her outrage in forthright political language, Croft was ruthlessly attacked by the Australian’s Christopher Allen, in a review less concerned with discussing the artworks on display than with celebrating the writer’s tiresomely cynical politicking.

Reel Time 102, page 23
Indigenous media art: complex visions
Tom Redwood



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