Disrupting Artistic Terra Nullius
Disrupting Artistic Terra Nullius; The ways that First Nations women in art & community speak blak to the colony & patriarchy
By Paola Balla
Creative Thesis PhD
Institute for Health and Sport
The notion of an artistic terra nullius refers to the violent erasure of Aboriginal peoples and in particular to First Nations women & builds from the historic notion of Aboriginal Peoples as ‘absent.’
This research sets out to document & respond to the work of Aboriginal women in art & community. I have used practice led inquiry informed by my own roles as artist, writer, curator, community researcher & as a Wemba-Wemba & Gunditjmara, matriarchal & sovereign woman. I have practiced community ways of ‘being, knowing and doing’ to witness, participate & respond to Aboriginal women’s art making & activism in a series of essays & a new body of visual works.
The exhibition will hold two seperate but related responses in two spaces; an epistemological space (the knowing) an active studio of photographic based works drawn from matriarchal family stories, both past, present & future. This includes family reclamation of Wemba-Wemba language. The ontological space (the being) will be one of memory, timelessness, respite, healing & created as ‘daily acts of repair’ by Paola & in collaboration & sharing with other Aboriginal women & family members in a new process of eco dyeing fabrics, clothing & rags to become ‘healing cloths.’ The cloths are dyed with gathered gum leaves, bush flowers, plants & Wemba-Wemba family bush medicine gifted to her by her Aunties and delivered by her mother. The ontological space is one of ‘unconditional love,’ and is an attempt to manifest a three dimensional space that makes visible trauma trails & stains & visualises what respite & healing could look & feel like.
OPENING: Friday 6 December, 6–8pm
EXHIBITION: 6-20 December
WORKSHOP (see below): 10 December, 11am–3pm
VENUE: Footscray Community Arts Centre
Eco Dyeing Workshop
Eco Dyeing tea towel workshop with locally-gathered Eucalypts and Indigenous plants, facilitated by Paola Balla. Numbers strictly limited, RSVP required to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Left – Margie the Matriarch, Paola Balla, 2018
Right – Kalina Moonahcullah, Paola Balla, 2019