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Sights from Sirens:

Aboriginal women photographers in Japan

‘Sights from Sirens’ opened at the Kawasaki Art Museum in Japan. Pictured are Photographers Michelle Blakeney, Sharon Karami and Artist/Curator Jenny Fraser. Image supplied

supplied by dot ayu 12 June 2014


boriginal artists, invited to exhibit in the 19th JAALA Biennial International Art Exhibition at the Kawasaki Art Museum, are in Japan. A partnership between JAALA and cyberTribe has realised the inclusion of Aboriginal artworks, for the second time in the 38 year history of the JAALA Biennale. cyberTribe curator and artist, Jenny Fraser has worked with JAALA Curator Saburo Inagaki to best

showcase Aboriginal representation for the exhibition. “Saburo is an old Japanese man in his mid 70’s and really proactive, so he is a great mentor to me. I am really inspired by his creative hard working spirit and happy to devote good energy to this exhibition of dialogue between our cultures.” Cairns-based screen artist Jenny presents the exhibition as an outcomes from an Australia Council Fellowship that she was awarded in 2012 at the 5th National Indigenous Arts Award that was held at the Sydney Opera House. Midden is

the overarching title of the project, in which the latest instalment is a curated exhibition of 12 Aboriginal Women Photographers, titled Sights from Sirens. “This is particularly significant as a large group exhibition of women photographers is a first, and we have been really enthusiastic about responding to the midden theme, with everyone making special efforts in offering our captured moments in goodwill for the consideration of Japanese artlovers. The group dynamic has been very motivating and its exciting to focus locally, but think

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internationally” she said. Murri artist Jenny Fraser was born in Far North Queensland and her old people originally hailed from Yugambeh Country in the Gold Coast Hinterland on the border of South East Queensland / Northern New South Wales. She is a celebrated screen artist, representing her fellowship award criteria as having a particular focus on artists working in experimental, media and hybrid arts that was open to cross-artform artists and arts administrators. The 2012 Fellowship category was open to practising Aboriginal artists, who were able to demonstrate at least 10 years experience as a practising professional artist or arts worker. Jenny Fraser also demonstrated a proven record as a recognised and established professional artist and arts worker, showing artistic merit, innovation and originality for the nominated program for the two year Fellowship period and also showed wider benefits for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts community, particularly with her online gallery, cyberTribe that was founded 15 years ago. “I’m using the concept of the midden as a metaphor for collecting stories and a series of works exploring our beloved sea life, full of potential for sustenance and healing. For this newly curated photography exhibition I’ve invited other women photographers and a writer because individually we can provide insider perspectives into our communities, and collectively we can make a powerful case towards the benefits of effective coastal management to ensure for the next generations, which is urgently overdue, particularly with the Great Barrier Reef” said Jenny

Fraser. The aim of the project is to creatively enhance, reframe, re-mix and disrupt forms of storytelling to create informative art experiences and new ways of working for engaged audiences. The acronym JAALA stands for Japan, Asian, African and Latin American Artists Association. Founded in 1978, with the inaugural exhibition titled “reinstatement of man and nature” at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum, JAALA included countries such as Palestine, China, Korea, Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Pakistan, Kenya and others. The 2014 JAALA Biennial will include a new focus on other countries: South Korea, China, Kurdistan, Taiwan and Aboriginal Australia. The late JAALA chairman Ichiro Needle, in the last years of his life, said “war is not stopped at the picture of a sheet, giving it to people who think beyond languages and borders can” and the JAALA exchange exhibition was shown in sections. The mission of the artist is considered to be for the eyes and heart, to see the absurdity of war, of oppression, to take the initiative presented in artistic expression to the people. JAALA also states that Chairman Needle was raised to respect philosophy, aspirations, and further increase the light that was burning in the hearts of artists of every nation and JAALA would also like to share. The works being presented in Japan include new works created especially for the midden theme, and for the Japanese audiences. “I asked the photographers to imagine themselves as the siren, or the mermaid, and show an insider view of their seascapes, and what is happening now towards

cultural maintenance and custodial responsibilities. What they have provided are really touching observations and there’s also some generous performative portraits, each reflecting issues important to coastal Aboriginal Australia today.” ‘Sights from Sirens’ opened at the Kawasaki Art Museum in Japan on Friday June 7th with three photographers in attendance, Michelle Blakeney, Sharon Karami and artist/curator Jenny Fraser, who will also participate in talks as part of the opening weekend program. The Kawasaki City Museum opened as a cultural complex of history and art in November, 1988. In accordance with its basic theme of ‘The City and Its People’, the exhibits and collections highlight two distinct categories. They present the history and progress of Kawasaki on the one hand, illustrated with archeological, historical and folk exhibits; and, on the other, modern and contemporary artistic expressions with exhibits of posters, photographs, manga, films and videos by artists who have drawn inspiration from the urban environment of Kawasaki and other cities. These two facets of the museum have enabled it to amass rich and varied collections, and have resulted in displays and exhibitions that are both unique and original. The women exhibiting in the JAALA Biennale include four Cairns-based Photographers Gertrude Davis, Sharon Karami, Nickeema Williams and artist / curator Jenny Fraser, alongside Barbara McGrady, Michelle Blakeney, r e a (NSW), Vicki West (TAS), Charmaine Green (WA), Colleen Raven (SA), Sandy O’Sullivan, Jo-Anne Driessens and writer Tahlee Walsh (QLD).

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Sights from sirens aboriginal women photographers in japan  

supplied by dot ayu 12 June 2014 Aboriginal artists, invited to exhibit in the 19th JAALA Biennial International Art Exhibition at the Kawas...

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