Sydney exhibition celebrates Indigenous art

Dot paintings and Indigenous art is being celebrated at a new exhibition at Sydney College of Arts, hoping to tackle stereotypes while exploring why so many artists are attracted to this method of painting.
According to Janelle Evans, curator and lecturer at Sydney University, in the eyes of the global art market, dot paintings are associated with Aboriginal art. However, because dot painting quickly became so widespread in the art world, Indigenous artists working in different mediums had problems attracting the interest of the international art market.
In addition to this, because of the popularity of dot paintings the market is also consumed with cheap fakes and rip-off dot paintings, with merchandise being produced in mass so that it can be sold in bulk to tourist shops and supermarkets.
Because of the ubiquity of dot paintings, genuine and bespoke works of art created by Indigenous artists rarely receive credit or profit, which continues to push a cycle of poverty in these communities, writes the Guardian.
In order to address this, Queensland MP Bob Katter has placed a private member’s bill before parliament that will amend consumer law so that profits from Indigenous art and artefacts filter back to Indigenous communities. Whether this bill will be approved, remains to be seen.
Mr Katter said: “It’s been happening for a long time and no-one seems to be listening to Aboriginal people that this stuff is important to us and it belongs here in this country. There are estimates that range from $3 million up to $20 million being lost each year.
“I don’t think anyone should be allowed to make money out of a cultural heritage that belongs to we Australians and, specifically, the First Australians. Our people didn’t have money — they had different systems of how we valued things and money certainly wasn’t part of it.”
The Sydney exhibition titled ‘dot, dot, dot (…)’ features the work of ten artists that use the dot as a starting point to reflect on their own identities and beliefs. The exhibition celebrates dot painting and Indigenous communities by including print media, sculpture, screen, photography and painting.
Ms Evan said that the exhibition’s focus is on exploring artists that have interpreted the dot beyond the style of central and western desert artists.
“Appropriation is just another form of colonisation,” she said. “You are appropriating something from people that have had everything taken from them. The land has been taken. The language has been taken. The children have been taken. All that’s left is art.
“Non-Indigenous artists who work with dots can work without appropriation. Within the dot, there’s a whole world that can be created. Artists have always referred to other artists in their work but appropriation becomes an issue when you are copying someone’s style. You need to bring your own inquiry to into what you are doing.”