Tony Albert, We Can Be Heroes, Pigment print on paper
An artwork based on a police shooting in Sydney has become the first photographic work to win the first prize in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award.
We Can Be Heroes is a series of photographs of young Aboriginal boys staring at the camera, defiant and proud, with red targets on their chests.
Artist Tony Albert said he made the work after Sydney police shot two Aboriginal teenagers who drove into a Kings Cross footpath in April 2012.
At the announcement of the $50,000 award at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in Darwin, he said young Aboriginal men were targets for prejudice.
“We are kind of walking targets in society, whether that be through police violence or brutality, or being followed around in shops,” he said.
“It even transfers to things like the intervention in the Northern Territory, where without naming anyone or anyone imprisoned, there was blanket statements about men being paedophiles and women-bashers.
Australian Aboriginal accounts of lunar and solar eclipses indicate many traditional communities understood the movement of the Sun, Earth and Moon.
The research by Duane Hamacher from Sydney’s Macquarie University and accepted for publication in the journal Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage and appearing on the website arXiv.org, indicates Aboriginal communities in different parts of Australia often have similar traditional stories to explain these events.
According to Hamacher, Aboriginal Australians were careful observers of the night sky, possessing a complex understanding of the motions of astronomical bodies and their correlation with terrestrial events.
This included the passage of time, the movement of tides, changing seasons, and the emergence of particular food sources.
“Aboriginal people used the sky for navigation, marriage and totem classes, as well as cultural mnemonics”, says Hamacher.
Moon Man and Sun Woman
According to Hamacher lunar eclipses are generally seen to have a fairly negative connotation around the world, and Aboriginal traditional culture is no different.
“Many viewed eclipses negatively, frequently associating them with bad omens, evil magic, disease and death,” says Hamacher. “In many communities, elders or medicine men were believed to have the ability to control or avert eclipses by magical means, solidifying their role as provider and protector within the community.”
“That’s often because of the reddish colour the Moon takes on during an eclipse is seen in some traditional culture as blood, meaning someone’s been killed or the ‘Moon Man’ is going into the graves of the diseased and emerging covered in the blood of the dead.”
Hamacher’s research reveals far more stories associated with solar eclipses than lunar ones, despite there being far more lunar eclipses taking place.
“Most solar eclipse stories describe the Moon covering the Sun,” according Hamacher. “Unless you were paying close attention you wouldn’t normally see that, because it happens in the new Moon phase when we can hardly see the Moon”.
“In northern and central Australia, it’s seen as the Moon Man and Sun Woman making love. Other parts of Australia see it as a black bird or possum fur covering the Sun, or the use of some magical means to make the Sun disappear.
Hamacher says some groups, especially in south eastern Australia see the sky as a canopy being held up by spirits.
One day, a crow and a hawk hunted together in the bush. After travelling together for some time, they decided to hunt in opposite directions, and, at the close of the day, to share whatever game they had caught.
The crow travelled against the sun, and at noonday arrived at a broad lagoon which was the haunt of the wild ducks.
First, he got some white clay, and, having softened it with water, placed two pieces in his nostrils.
He then took a long piece of hollow reed through which he could breathe under water, and finally tied a net bag around his waist in which to place the ducks.
The ducks, with their bronze plumage glistening in the sun, were swimming among the clumps of reeds, and only paused to dive for a tasty morsel hidden deep in the water weeds.
The crow placed the reed in his mouth, and, without making any sound, waded into the water.
He quickly submerged himself, and the only indication of his presence in the lagoon, was a piece of dry reed which projected above the surface of the water. When he reached the centre of the water hole he remained perfectly still.
He did not have to wait long for the ducks to swim above his head.
Then, without making any sound or movement, he seized one by the leg, quickly pulled it beneath the water, killed it, and placed it in the net bag. By doing this, he did not frighten the other ducks, and, in a short time he had trapped a number of them.
He then left the lagoon and continued on his way until he came to a river.
The crow was so pleased with his success at the waterhole, that he determined to spear some fish before he returned to his camp. He left the bag of ducks on the bank of the river, and, taking his fish spear, he waded into the river until the water reached his waist.
Then he stood very still, with the spear poised for throwing.
A short distance from the spot where he was standing, a slight ripple disturbed the calm surface of the water. With the keen eye of the hunter, he saw the presence of fish, and, with a swift movement of his arm, he hurled the spear, and his unerring aim was rewarded with a big fish.
The water was soon agitated by many fish, and the crow took advantage of this to spear many more. With this heavy load of game, he turned his face towards home.
The hawk was very unfortunate in his hunting. He stalked a kangaroo many miles, and then lost sight of it in the thickly wooded hills. He then decided to try the river for some fish, but the crow had made the water muddy and frightened the fish, so again he was unsuccessful.
At last the hawk decided to return to his gunyah with the hope that the crow would secure some food, which they had previously agreed to share.
When the hawk arrived, he found that the crow had been there before him and had prepared and eaten his evening meal. He at once noticed that the crow had failed to leave a share for him.
This annoyed the hawk, so he approached the crow and said: “I see you have had a good hunt to-day. I walked many miles but could not catch even a lizard. I am tired and would be glad to have my share of food, as we agreed this morning.”
“You are too lazy,” the crow replied. “You must have slept in the sun instead of hunting for food.
Anyhow, I’ve eaten mine and cannot give you any.” This made the hawk very angry, and he .attacked the crow.
For a long time they struggled around the dying embers of the camp fire, until the hawk seized the crow and rolled him in the black ashes.
When the crow recovered from the fight, he found that he could not wash the ashes off, and, since that time, crows have always been black.
The crow was also punished for hiding the food which he could not eat by being condemned to live on putrid flesh.
Over 50,000 bulbs light up an expanse of Australia’s Red Centre desert near Ayers Rock in an installation about the size of four football fields.
The solar powered work, Field of Light Uluru, was produced by artist Bruce Munro who conceived the idea while visiting Uluru in 1992.
Twelve years later he created its first installation in a field behind his home, and it has since moved the work around to several different sights across the United Kingdom, United States, and Mexico.
Field of Light was a project that refused to leave the artist’s sketchbook.
“I saw in my mind a landscape of illuminated stems that, like the dormant seed in a dry desert, quietly wait until darkness falls, under a blazing blanket of southern stars, to bloom with gentle rhythms of light,” said Munro.
The British artist is best known for his light installations which often contain components numbering in the thousands.
These large works refer to his own experience as being a tiny element to life’s larger pattern, and employ light as a way to tap into a more emotional response with his viewers.
Profits for the installation will benefit the local community.
The Anangu tribe have named the piece Tili Wiru Tjuta Nyakutjaku in Pitjantjatjara which translates to “looking at lots of beautiful lights.
Ingetje Tadros has been named a finalist in the feature/photographic essay category for her work, which presents an insider’s view of the struggles faced by remote Aboriginal communities undergoing the hardships that stem from dislocation.
This shot shows Meah, a five-year-old, standing outside her family home watching a bulldozer demolishing Kennedy Hill’s office in Broome.
The image reflects the news that the premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, committed to closing down about 150 remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia.
Shiprock, Navajo Nation, San Juan County, New Mexico
Text & Photography By Paul Smithson Phillips.
Shiprock is an isolated peak in the rugged Four Corners region of New Mexico.
The stunning formation soars over 1,500 feet above the surrounding high-desert plain to a total elevation of 7,177 feet above sea level.
It appears to have been shipwrecked there for an eternity by the ancient volcano from which it was forged.The Navajo word for Shiprock is Tse’ Bit’ ai’, meaning the “rock with wings.”
This type of isolated mountain is known as a monadnock, meaning a land formation that abruptly rises from the surrounding terrain. Shiprock lives true to its name and is visible for miles in any direction.
Approximately 12 miles south of the town of Shiprock, New Mexico, Shiprock can be reached on Navajo Route 5010, a rough dirt road heading north from Red Rock Highway.
A high ground clearance vehicle is recommended. Shiprock is on Navajo Nation land and is an essential part of Navajo history and religion.
Legend says that it is the remains of the giant bird that carried the Navajo people out of the north into current day New Mexico. The area should be respected, so it’s important to stay on established roads.