Art Gallery of New South Wales presents Half Light- Portraits from Black Australia, on view through 22 February 2009. Photography by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists has emerged over the past two decades as a definitive expression of contemporary Indigenous life in Australia. Half Light is the first major survey of the work of Indigenous artists engaging with the photographic medium and the portrait. The exhibition brings together over 140 works by 15 of Australia’s most renowned Indigenous artists. With a critical eye on the history of photographic representations of Indigenous people, these artists take charge of the lens. In the exhibition we see the ˜face’ of Indigenous Australia, at home on the mission pouring tea, dancing up in country or re-enacting and reclaiming the past.

Mervyn Bishop was the first Aboriginal professional photographer for the Sydney Morning Herald in the 1960s and many of his images feature iconic moments in Australian history and their protagonists, such as Gough Whitlam, Vincent Lingiari and Lionel Rose. Michael Riley’s portraits of his Sydney community are sophisticated and glamorous, while Ricky Maynard’s series document important community cultural events including the annual mutton birding season in Tasmania and the faces of the Wik elders whose community is synonymous with the political struggle for native title rights. Genevieve Grieves has created filmic portraits that re-construct archival ethnographic portrayals of Aboriginal people in slow moving images. Diane Jones takes well-known paintings of colonial scenes such as Tom Roberts Shearing the Rams and photographer Max Dupain’s The Sunbaker. By inserting her image and her family within the frame, Jones reveals an unrecognised history.

Showcasing a range of techniques from classical black and white portraiture to large scale duratrans; from digital imagery to experimental films, the exhibition offers an unprecedented insight that transcends national borders and the harsh reality of the everyday.

Half Light embraces the fundamental right of people to self-representation, expressed in the works of Indigenous photographers who have upheld “ and continue to uphold “ this simple truth. The exhibition is curated by Hetti Perkins and Jonathan Jones, Curators of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art at the Art Gallery of NSW. A fully illustrated catalogue with artist interviews accompanies the exhibition.