Wiradyuri sovereignty was never ceded. We pay respect to our Wiradyuri community; our Ancestors, our Elders, our Country and our Kin who hold our Lore, our Language, our Land and our Custom. We are all in this together.
Amala Groom is a Wiradyuri conceptual artist whose practice, as the performance of her cultural sovereignty, is informed and driven by First Nations epistemologies, ontologies and methodologies. Her work, a form of passionate activism, presents acute and incisive commentary on contemporary socio-political issues. Articulated across diverse media, Groom’s work often subverts and unsettles western iconographies to enunciate Aboriginal stories, experiences and histories, and to interrogate and undermine the legacy of colonialism. Informed by extensive archival, legislative and first-person research, Groom’s work is socially engaged, speaking truth to take a stand against hypocrisy, prejudice, violence and injustice.
Across her practice, Groom proactively seeks to dismantle the Colonial Project (1) by asserting the argument that colonialism is not just disadvantageous for First Peoples but is, in fact, antithetical to the human experience. On a deeper note, Groom intends to make work that speaks to the union of all peoples and to the indivisibility of the human experience that traverses identity, culture, race, class, gender and religious worship.
Groom is a solo practitioner who works with her family, community and extensive economic, cultural, political, legal and social networks to both inform, lead and drive her practice. Groom works collaboratively with individuals and groups on a project by project basis.
(1) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines the Colonial Project as emerging ‘when it became possible to move large numbers of people across the ocean and to maintain political sovereignty in spite of geographical dispersion’. The artist uses the term to describe the ongoing invasion of Australia by the Crown through the usurpation of Aboriginal sovereignty by the State.
Amala Groom : dhaagun ngiyanhigin.gu nganhundhi (The land owns me), 2019 | Arizona flatbed SAMBA UV print on be.tex woven polyester 195 GSM, 185 x 280 cm
Finalist, 2020 Pro Hart Outback Art Prize
dhaagun ngiyanhigin.gu nganhundhi, 2018 (1) is a portrait of the self, which questions the notions of western perceptions of land ownership and how those perceptions are diametrically opposed to that of First Nations peoples calling to further inquiry; who really owns our physical bodies?
For the artist, the relationship between land and body is indivisible. Her Aboriginality is her religion, politics, philosophy and spirituality. Her connection to Country, to her Old People (ancestors) and to herself with her body acting as a finely tuned instrument of Biame (god), stands, in this work, in an affirmative pose demonstrating the indivisibility that transcends across all of humanity; across all religions, races, nations and ontologies.
dhaagun ngiyanhigin.gu nganhundhi, 2018 postulates that in a colonial construct, where we are all forcibly governed by the western legal system, we are all shamed into wearing clothes to cover our physical bodies. The artist view’s this imposition as the colony shaming the physical body, which acts as a form of punishment and in subverting and calling attention to this punishment the artist replaces the wearing of clothes with the wearing of a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II the current representative of the Crown, the Colony and the Colonial Project.
(1) The title of this work is in the artists maternal Wiradyuri language group. The translation of the words are as follows; dhaagun: land earth ashes soil (also grave), ngiyanhigin.gu: ours all (inclusive) persons owning something, nganhundhi: me (with me).
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