NAIDOC Week Artist Feature: Defying Empire’s Reko Rennie

National Gallery of Australia 3 July 2017

To mark the end of NAIDOC Week, let’s take a closer look at one of the stunning artworks in Defying Empire: 3rd National Indigenous Art Triennial at the National Gallery of Australia. Step into the NGA foyer, and you’ll immediately notice a 1973 Rolls Royce Corniche painted in colourful camouflage by Kamilaroi artist Reko Rennie. In this captivating interview, Reko explains the significance of his choice of vehicle and the vital role it plays in his powerful video installation, OA_RR 2017. Rennie states that OA_RR challenges the symbolism of the Rolls Royce – a ‘symbol of wealth and power and colonialism’ among regional landholders in the twentieth century – by using camouflage to proudly declare the continued presence of Indigenous Australians on this land.

Defying Empire presents works by 30 contemporary Indigenous artists, highlighting the exciting range of art making practices used by Indigenous artists working in Australia today. The exhibition features an incredible range of contemporary works, from Reko Rennie’s video installation and painted Rolls Royce to Ken Thaiday’s stunning oversized headdresses and mechanised sculptures, and Yhonnie Scarce’s enormous glittering glasswork, Thunder Raining Poison. Defying Empire is now open, and not to be missed.

Wesfarmers Arts is the NGA’s Indigenous Art Partner and the Presenting Partner of Defying Empire.

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