NGA Embraces NAIDOC Week with ‘Defying Empire’

National Gallery of Australia 6 July 2017

‘We defy:

By existing;

By determining our identity;

By asserting our histories; our culture; our language;

By telling our stories, our way;

By being one of the oldest continuous living cultures in the world.’

– Tina Baum, NGA Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Curator

The National Gallery of Australia is celebrating NAIDOC Week through its contemporary Indigenous art, Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial. Coinciding with the 50th Anniversary of the 1967 Referendum—which granted Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the right to be counted in the Census and, therefore, counted as Australians—Defying Empire presents works by 30 established, mid-career and emerging contemporary Indigenous artists from across the country. The exhibition shines a light on the incredible range of contemporary Indigenous art practice, and includes paintings on canvas and bark, enormous woven baskets, beautiful shell necklaces, and stunning video installations.

In this interview, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Curator Tina Baum speaks about the importance of Defying Empire:

‘‘Defying Empire’ to me means so much. We as Indigenous people have been defying a whole range of ideologies about who we are as part of this nation. One of the first statements that I’ve said is: ‘We defy by existing.’ It was a long-held thought that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would die out, we would no longer exist… However, after 200 plus years, we’re still here, and we, within this exhibition, determine who we are as people. Our identity, our stories, telling our stories our way’.

For more information on our exciting NAIDOC Week public programs, including creative workshops with artist Tony Albert and a fascinating artist talk with Jason Wing, visit:

Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial is now open. Wesfarmers Arts is the NGA’s Indigenous Art Partner and the Presenting Partner of Defying Empire.

Image: Defying Empire artists and Curators with NGA Director Gerard Vaughan.

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