Cover image of the review
Paola Balla, Murrup (Ghost) Weaving in Rosie Kuka Lar (Grandmother’s Camp) 2021 with Rosie Tang, Untitled Wallpaper, image c. 1978, reproduced 2021, installation view, WILAM BIIK, TarraWarra Museum of Art, 2021. Courtesy of Paola Balla.Photo: Andrew Curtis.


11 Dec 2021
30 Oct - 21 Nov 2021

While WILAM BIIK is situated in a traditional gallery space, Wurundjeri, Dja Dja Wurrung and Ngurai Illum Wurrung curator Stacie Piper, ensures that story and community are the exhibition’s focus. In her preface to the show, Piper states that she sees her role as being a storyteller and story facilitator, “connecting past and present and allowing the continuity between them to show through.”

Piper achieves this in multiple ways, such as selecting First Nations artists from across the southeast to contest the colonial boundary of Victoria, disrupting space and landscape through curation. And addressing localised issues rather than popularised themes. As Murroona/Djiru educator and curator Kim Kruger articulated in a review of the exhibition, it is “a multi-layered conversation between Country, people and ancestors that surges with the power of Aboriginal connectivity”.

Arika Waulu (Koolyn, Gunnai, Djap Wurrung, Peek Wurrung, Dhauwurd Wurrung), Yuccan Noolert (Mother Possum) 2021, wood, red ochre, yellow ochre, charcoal, acrylic, ink, melaleuca bark, crushed granite, koolor (lava stone) dimensions variable, installation view, WILAM BIIK, TarraWarra Museum of Art, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.  Photo: Andrew Curtis.

Blak curatorial decision making ensures that First Nations people’s cultural practices carryout far-reaching goals and artists’ intended meaning, which through colonisation and western framing have often been reduced to anthropological categorisation and interpretation. By challenging the western gaze in art and museology her vision also addresses the appropriation, fetishisation, tokenisation and/or trend of Blakness and activism rampant in contemporary art. It is a phenomenon that Yugambeh writer and academic Dr Maddee Clark warns us of in his essay The Crisis of De-colonising the Arts:

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