The Australia Council for the Arts has announced that nine established Aboriginal Art Curators are taking part in an international exchange program at the 57th Biennale in Venice. Ozco’s Executive Director Strategic Development and Advocacy, Dr Wendy Were explained that the First Nations Curators Program at the 2017 Venice Biennale builds on the First Nations Curators Exchanges held at 8th Asia Pacific Triennial in 2015 and in New Zealand in 2017 involving Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians. It also aligns with a deep First Nations focus by Australian at the 2017 Venice Biennale, with Tracey Moffatt as the first solo Indigenous artist to represent Australia at this prestigious global art exhibition.

(Oddly, the press release which details Moffatt’s show for the first time makes absolutely no reference to her Aboriginal/First Nations origins. It does reveal that ‘My Horizon’ contains the dramatic series of film noir photos, ‘Passage‘ and another series called ‘Body Remembers‘, where the artist herself appears as a maid surreally carrying out her duties in a stately home that’s crumbling around her. There are also two short films “ ‘Vigil‘, empathising with refugees, which Moffatt describes as white people gawking at desperate poor brown people in boats; and ‘The White Ghosts Sailed In’, in which she imagines a film made by Aborigines in Sydney on that fateful day in 1788. Reviews so far have been confused).

Dr Were continues: The week-long professional development opportunity supports Australian First Nations curators to build partnerships based on reciprocal exchange with other First Nations international curators from Canada, New Zealand and Norway, as well as increasing networks and collaborations between artists and curators.

This delegation of established and mid-career First Nations curators from Australia mentored a group of emerging curators also attending the Venice Biennale as part of another Australia Council professional development program; participated in a week-long immersive networking program that will build and leverage vital international connections; and took part in a two-day intensive workshop, which included a keynote address by respected Indigenous academic, Professor Marcia Langton AM; and generally engaged in market development and exchange at one of the great international visual arts gatherings.

This program has been generously supported by Sam Meers and the Nelson Meers Foundation through the highly successful public-private partnership model of the Venice project, Dr Were said.

Held during the Vernissage (preview) week of the Venice Biennale, the First Nations Curators program ran from 9 May to 15 May.

The lucky Australian participants were:
Bruce Johnson-McLean (QAGoMA), Carly Lane (WAAG), Clothilde Bullen (MCA), Djon Mundine (Freelance), Franchesca Cubillo (NGA), Nici Cumpston (SAAG), Nicole Foreshew (NSW Artist and Primavera Curator), Stephen Gilchrist (Harvard), Teho Ropeyarn (Cape York Artist and Cairns Regional Gallery Curator).

Pretty much the cream of the crop!