The National Gallery of Australia are celebrating their 25th anniversary this year with an exhibition of aboriginal art, both traditional and modern, produced in the last three years. The collection is called Culture Warriors and, according to the NGA’s website, is ‘designed to break aboriginal art stereotypes’.
Here is one of the featured works, Treasure Island by Daniel Boyd, that hopefully, will break a few stereotypes of its own, those of indigenous homogeneity and monoculturalism.
I can’t remember just how many times I’ve been asked something like ‘so you speak aboriginal?’, but there have been many, by otherwise intelligent people. Curiously, they’re often the very same people who, as calmly as if they were describing the weather, speak of Kriol as ‘bastardised English’.
I guess I’m naively hoping that such people will look at a depiction such as the artwork above and realise that there was, and is, great cultural, linguistic and ethnic diversity right around the country. Then again, they may see it as a bunch of coloured shapes on a map of the country.
In case you need to be told, these aren’t just a bunch of coloured shapes on a map of the country, they are the best guess at pre-colonial linguistic boundaries as surveyed and published by AIATSIS.