STAUNCH: An Exploration of Aboriginal Queer Liberation
Curated by Dominic Guerrera
About the exhibition
Nexus Arts is delighted to present STAUNCH: An Exploration of Aboriginal Queer Liberation as part of Tarnanthi, and including works on loan from the Flinders University Museum of Art.
Curated by Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna and Italian writer and artist Dominic Guerrera, STAUNCH foregrounds queerness, exposing the diversity of possibilities that reside within Aboriginal identities. The exhibition presents a curated collection of work created by queer Aboriginal contemporary visual artists, presented alongside text quotes from three Aboriginal poets and against the backdrop of a previously unheard soundscape. STAUNCH celebrates Blak liberation found in ideas, in love and in togetherness.
Explore the exhibition
Originally published Koori Mail, 18 December 2013, page 24.
Michael Riley, Untitled (Bible) from the series Cloud, 2000, chromogenic print on paper, 129.5 x 175 cm, Collection of Flinders University Museum of Art 4428.
The white framed, window-mounted work is a large landscape orientated print of a Bible hovering in the sky. 1.75metres wide by approximately 1.3metres tall.
The sky is soft and grainy, colours of Azure and Sapphire blues are rich and deep on the left hand side and through subtle gradient meet luminous white hazy cloud in the centre, which trails off to the right hand side.
The black bible is face down and open, floating in the sky, slightly higher and just left of centre on top of the cloud patch. It is big, nearly half a metre in width and length. Its orientation is upside down, tilted on an anticlockwise angle, resembling a diamond shape. Its thick spine is illuminated by light giving it a gold iridescent glow. There is a large gold cross on the front cover, which has faint suggestions of clear sticky tape around its edges.
Collection of Flinders University Museum of Art 4428
© Michael Riley/Copyright Agency, 2021
Collection of Catherine Carrol
Arika Waulu, Untitled, 2021, wood, synthetic polymer paint, dimensions variable
This is a sculptural installation comprising two long, digging sticks elevated on a white plinth in front of a large black circle., The sticks, of unequal heights, point down into a pile of sand.
Totalling almost two meters high, starting approximately half a metre from the ground is a 1.5m matte black circle, painted directly onto the centre of the white gallery wall. In front is a tall white, narrow rectangular plinth 90cm high, 40cm x 40cm wide on which is presented a small heap of beige sand. Two wheat-coloured digging sticks, sharpened at the submerged end, stand upright, tapering down to beveled tips. Small metal brackets secure them to the wall, wider apart at their tops than the submerged tips, in a poise similar to animal horns. The black circle frames them centrally. The digging stick on the left is 84cm in length, its carved shape causes it to angle slightly to the right as it descends to meet the sand.. It is mostly light -coloured raw wood with some decorative pitting at the top, a thick black band painted in the middle, and two thinner gold bands either side of the black evenly spaced along it’s length,
The digging stick on the right is approximately fifteen centimetres shorter – standing 69cm in high. At the top it bows out wide, beyond the side of the plinth. Over half of it is painted. Gold covers the top of the stick, a long band of red beneath, with gold repeated underneath. Some thin black lines have been drawn near the top, separating the gold and red with small triangles. There is a small gold circle the size of a milk bottle lid, painted onto the red section, detailed with a black circle border and black dot in the centre.
The surface of both sticks bear directional markings from hand carving.
This is the end of the audio description.
Originally Published: Lemon in the Chicken Wire, Magabala Books, 2016
Collection of Flinders University Museum of Art 3390
© the artist
A neighbouring tribe use to call us Guarai, the hostile ones. Why did they consider us hostile? Was it that we were staunch and fought for out rights. Was it that we had great pride and would defend our Country. I think its all these things.
My partner Ian Kenny bought me a concertina book from Japan which they call Orhions, and since 2016 these books have been a part of my practice as they represent queer love, a love gift between men. The book is a contemporary reimagining of ancient rock art, the layers of time and knowledge and feature the Dingo. The dingo is considered hostile, a pest that gets in the way of colonial progress (livestock farming) and is hunted and baited. Its our native dog but isn’t given the respect it deserves. It doesn’t have the same rights as other natives and to me it’s the queer outsider, fighting to exist and thrive. In this book I celebrate the Dingo and my tribe the Ngarigu, both consider hostile, but both proud and up for survival.
Gift of Emeritus Professor JVS Megaw and Dr M Ruth Megaw; Collection of Flinders University Museum of Art 4335
© Brook Andrew/Copyright Agency, 2021
Someone once asked me to describe Queerness, I replied: ‘If heterosexuality is about conforming to a ridged structure of sexuality, then Queerness is about the endless expressions of human sexuality, gender and sex, and the absence of them.’
We navigate against tides and winds that push us in our unnatural direction. Our feet march these streets, our arms hold and nurture babies, we are present and organising. We are community.
We are resistance, for we have more gazes upon our bodies, more knives pointed to our fronts and to our backs. We have been rejected from every corner of every community and yet we still shine more colors than a rainbow.
We create revolutions, we stand up for what is right, because if we don’t, who will?
This is not a burden, this is survival.
I created this exhibition out of a deep love for my second home, the Aboriginal Queer community. This home is filled with incredibly strong people, people who often excel in their lives, despite the need to cope with the additional layers of oppression we face. We are present in our communities, we contribute significantly, particularly when it comes to work of resistance and revolution. Any given movement for Aboriginal rights, has Aboriginal Queer people at the heart of it.
The artists presented don’t need me to create platforms for them to speak, they are a capable of doing so themselves. But rather, I need them–because through their expression and work I am informed, I am educated and I am able to take action. This exhibition is my classroom, I hope it becomes yours too.
Meet the artists & curators
Dominic Guerrera (he/him) is a Ngarrindjeri, Kaurna and Italian person. Dominic is a poet, podcaster and is currently undertaking a Masters in Gender Studies at Flinders University.
In 2020 Dominic curated his first art exhibition circles to us, which featured at Nexus Arts and in 2021 was the guest curator of the Context Writers Festival with Writers SA.
Dominic’s writing has featured in Granta Magazine, Artlink Magazine, Cordite Poetry Review and in 2021 was the winner of the Oodgeroo Noonuccal Poetry Prize.