Tonight I joined a small group of alumni, friends and staff of La Trobe University for the Melbourne launch of Exhibit E(migrate); a celebration of the Australian emigrant story.   

As a university that celebrates diversity and social inclusion, La Trobe’s Exhibit E(migrate) highlights the unique cultural and intellectual contribution made by both the artists and the emigrant.
This series launch is part of the University’s showcasing of works from their own collection. The La Trobe community is vastly enriched by the many people who have, by choice or circumstance, lived the emigration experience. As a guest curator I had the opportunity to review an item from their collection, showcased at this launch. I selected the charcoal etching, ‘Black Camps’, by Russell Drysdale. Moustafa Fahour OAM, founder of the Islamic Museum of Australia, was a fellow guest curator, who reviewed the piece, ‘Academic Lawn’.

My Review for Exhibit E(migrate) of:Black Camps – Russell Drysdale (no date, lithograph print on paper)

The title of this piece evoked a quiet rage in me contained only by the steely glance of the mother. I see her tall, proud stance; resolute against the Black Camps and what they represent through a colonial lens. 

I see here the bond of a Mother and Child that defies State intervention. I see a child who belongs to their mother, who belongs to this Nation’s First People who belong to the land. Belonging manifest in its most human and earthly context. 
I believe the charcoal etching amplifies the stark contrast of what is seen against what is understood. And there’s an intrinsic rawness in an etching, which exudes a power to these characters, presenting an intimate portrait of a sacred bond. 
Ultimately, the simplicity of this portrait speaks volumes about how aboriginal identity continues to be seen in a one dimensional capacity. And yet, the overriding truths of genocide, dispossession, stolen generations and mass incarcerations bearing the legacy of Colonial rule, are the injustices I see this mother and child standing against. Alone and strong. 
Exhibit E(migrate) is on display at the Writer’s Block Cafe on the Bundoora campus from 22 August until 29 September 2016.

#blacklivesmatter #endracism #closethegap #E(migrate) #latrobeuni #guestcurator #curatortales #tasneemchopra #islamicmuseumofaustralia