‘Rite of Passage’ by virtual tour at QUT Art Museum

QUT Art Museum in Brisbane invites audiences to take a virtual tour of the exhibition ‘Rite of Passage’, while the gallery is closed to the public as a result of Covid-19.

Julie Gough, Crime Scene (Survivor), 2019-20, video still, installation with tereena (basket, flag iris: Diplarrena Moraea) and 4K video, 16:9, colour, sound, 18:08 min, edited by Angus Ashton. Courtesy the artist and QUT Art Museum, Queensland

‘Rite of Passage’ is an exhibition, which features a selection of artworks by eleven contemporary Aboriginal women artists who articulate on the significance of the year 2020 for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples both past and present, 250 years after Cook landed.

As we know, his unjust proclamation lead to the colonisation of Australia and the decimation of the physical and cultural existence of Aboriginal people, the oldest continuous living culture on earth, who for tens-of-thousands of years lived a harmonious life guided by their innate spiritual connection to land and Country, cultural law and ancestral knowledge.

Glennys Briggs, I have smallpox, 2020, screen printed wool blankets and rust. Photograph: Louis Lim. Courtesy the artist and QUT Art Museum, Queensland

“Our proud people were dispossessed from their homes, their state-of-the-art architectural constructions, and their sophisticated farming techniques, only to be murdered upon the very land on which they were born, for the sake of terra nullius,” writes Brett in the exhibition essay.

In response to the gravity of this deeply etched mark on Australia’s history, artists Glennys Briggs, Megan Cope, Nici Cumpston, Karla Dickens, Julie Gough, Lola Greeno, Leah King Smith, Jenna Lee, Carol McGregor, Mandy Quadrio and Judy Watson, have come together in ‘Rite of Passage’ with a presentation of artworks illustrating the historical truths of what Aboriginal people have endured for the last quarter of a century.

Carol McGregor, Wreath for Oodgeroo (detail), 2020, possum skins, charcoal, ochre, binder medium and waxed thread. Photograph: Louis Lim. Courtesy the artist and QUT Art Museum, Queensland

“These honest artists are creative storytellers, people who know our history and who understand those melancholy yesterdays and our acrimonious now. Through their work, the artists contemplate their intergenerational pain to de-colonise current social realities and to conjure political change that will educate a greater community conditioned by the constructs of whiteness. This has become their rite,” Brett explains.

Through the efficacy of their creative intuition and the fire that burns within them the artists seek to nourish and preserve their Aboriginal culture, knowledge and identity, for their families, their ancestors and for themselves, with hope for meaningful change for Aboriginal people, more sincere understanding of Aboriginal culture and a just future for the traditional owners of this land.

Hear more from guest curator Shannon Brett, who is a descendant of the Wakka Wakka, Butchulla and Gurang Gurang clans, in her exhibition essay ‘Rite of Passage’, available for download here or visit on the QUT Art Museum website to purchase the exhibition catalogue. Take the virtual tour.