Waitangi Commemorations Youth Forum :: Jenny Fraser

January, 2003 :: Aotearoa, New Zealand

Kia Ora! Mimicry was successful in obtaining part funds from ANAT to attend the Waitangi Commemorations in Aotearoa/NZ in February. Mimicry is a collective that was established to create a cultural discourse enveloping the modes and contexts of contemporary art, and engaging the individual artistic ideologies of Indigenous Australian art practices. Compiled of three core young indigenous members: Christian Thompson [Bidjara], Jenny Fraser [Bundjalung] and Jonathan Jones [Wiradjuri/Kamileroi], Mimicry is framed by a common ground of body, space and history, and was born to recognise the need to represent ourselves. At present the three core members are spread across the eastern seaboard of Australia, encompassing three states, with the majority of dialog via e-mail.

An art/life philosophy exists within Mimicry that is a culmination of artists and artforms that seek to represent and engage this duality – representing the evidence of art and focusing on the self‚ as a cultural commodity and political vehicle, which is conceptualised within a space and controlled by history.

Mimicry‘s narrative seeks to encompass both contemporary and traditional ideologies of Australian Art practice, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal alike, to create an informed and symbiotic hybridised language with reference to the body, space and history. Mimicry’s experimental and fluid format intends to negotiate collaborations, partnerships and networks, nationally and internationally with definition bleeding across forms.

Mimicry wished to work with special guest Michelle Blakeney in Aotearoa, who was also invited by the Coordinators of the Tuwai Indigenous Resource Centre in Whangarei, in the North Island. We were asked to a presentation and workshop on Australian Aboriginal Activism + Art.

Mimicry’s attendance at the Waitangi Commemorations was an invaluable experience with regard to the opportunity of presenting a workshop of this nature, imparting the Australian Indigenous experience, forming new networks, collaborations and also maintaining existing ones. It is of utmost importance for us to maintain Indigenous relationships across borders, with regard to support and networking in Arts/Activism related areas.

We were particularly excited about being in the company of like-minded, strong and proactive Indigenous people from the International Community, which is a rare opportunity. We felt privileged to be invited to such an occasion and to spend time in the company of staunch members of the Maori Youth Movement and their supporters.

With regard to our own professional development, we relished in our first international experience as a newly formed Artists Collective, and felt proud to represent our people and participate in the Hui (meetings) and Korero (forums). At one stage I spoke to an audience of 1000 people, and although it was a little nerve wracking I felt comfortable in discussing the subject matter and the cross-tasman crowd was interested and supportive. I briefly talked about how we don’t have a treaty in Australia and outlined some History as to why that Australia was first dubbed as Terra Nullius.

I discussed how Aboriginals weren’t considered people, but as part of the Flora and Fauna‚ until the late sixties, around the same era that we were given the vote. I expressed my compassion and empathy for the hardworking individuals in Australia who have, over the years taken part in attempting to initiate a Treaty in a governmental process it must be really frustrating to say the least. I then discussed the difficulties of protesting in Australia being different from Aotearoa, NZ, where Maori are sometimes given an area of land to occupy to undertake protests that can last for years.

But our only so-called permanent venue for occupational protest was the Aboriginal Tent embassy in Canberra, which is under threat and would probably be soon closed down. This led me into discussion about how Australia’s Indigenous people use the Arts to get our messages across and also as a vehicle for activism.

A great outcome from our attendance at Waitangi was an invitation to exhibit and I have organised to show my recent new works from the exhibition not really queenz’land‚ in June at the Tuwai Indigenous Resource Centre in Whangarei, North Island.

Arohanui (love),
Jenny Fraser – Tungata Whenua (people of the land)

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply