Monthly Archives: February 2010

Figure-skating + “Aboriginal dance” + Vancouver Olympics = ???

As many of you have already seen, or heard, an ice-skating duo performed a controversial “Aboriginal dance” in the Vancouver Olympics on Saturday, 20 February. For a video of the performance and Tom Reilly’s article from The Age following their performance in Saint Petersburg in February, click here.

Astonishingly, they took the same routine to Vancouver, despite receiving advice to modify their costumes and music to be less offensive. Review, “Russian ice dancers’ routine should have been iced,” by Leslie Thompson of the Calgary Herald, here.

Bev Manton, chairwoman of the New South Wales Land Council was quoted by The Australian newspaper as saying, “Aboriginal people for very good reason are sensitive about their cultural objects and icons being co-opted by non-Aboriginal people – whether they are from Australia or Russia,” and “it’s important for people to tread carefully and respectfully when they are depicting somebody else’s culture and I don’t think this performance does.” Indeed.


Exchanging totems: Baldwin Spencer and the ‘manufacture’ of ethnographic totem in inter-museum exchanges

This showed up in my inbox this morning:


Discovery Centre, Lower Ground Floor,
Melbourne Museum, Carlton Gardens
Tuesday 23 February, 1pm – 2pm

Free entry, Bookings essential
For RSVP and information contact: Larissa Tittl, Administrative Assistant, Indigenous Cultures Department
Phone 8341 7363, Email

Exchanging totems: Baldwin Spencer and the ‘manufacture’ of ethnographic totem in inter-museum exchanges

Dr Gareth Knapman

Between 1899 and 1908, the then director of the National Museum of Victoria, Walter Baldwin Spencer dispatched a number of collections of Aboriginal material culture to museums in Europe and North America as either gifts or exchanges. He initially used these collections to promote his ideas research into totemism, although as his ideas on totems and totemism changed so did the collections purpose. Totemism was one of the hot debates of early C20th sociology/anthropology with historic figures such as Continue reading

March Meeting

We are looking at holding our monthly Aboriginal Art Reading Group meeting on either the third or fourth Monday in March. The dates are 15 or 22 March. Please let me know if you have a preference!

Comment here, or email me, Kira Randolph:

NADOC 1986 Photography Exhibition

In our reading group meeting last night we discussed the NADOC (National Aboriginal Day Observance Committee) 1986 Aboriginal and Islander Photographers Exhibition in relation to Brenda Croft’s me-take exhibition essay (PCP), “I see deadly people” and Glenn Pilkington’s FLASH comment, “Branded: The Indigenous Aesthetic.” The Aboriginal and Islander Photographers Exhibition was the first to showcase exclusively Indigenous photo-media, organized by Anthony (Ace) Bourke and co-curated by Tracey Moffatt. This exhibition included works by ten artists including Mervyn Bishop, Brenda Croft, Ellen José, Ricky Maynard, Michael Riley, and Tracey Moffatt.

For more about this exhibition, see Gael Newton’s, Senior Curator, Australian and International Photography National Gallery of Australia, essay “Tracey Moffatt: World of Dreamings Traditional and modern art of Australia” that accompanied the exhibition of the same name at the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg in early 2000.

See also, Michael Riley: Sights Unseen retrospective slide show on the National Gallery of Australia’s website.

Michael RILEY Kristina, 1986

From the NGA website:

I’m just trying to break away from the normal, everyday image of Aboriginal people and putting it up on a wall so people can see them. Continue reading