Deathscapes

Indigenous Femicide and the Killing State 3h - Visual Testimonies

Deathscapes

Visual Testimonies

The stories of Indigenous femicide constitute a hidden archive of the settler state. While statistics and court documents tell a small part of the story, the core documents of this fragmented and scattered archive are the written and visual  traces that supplement the testimonies of the women themselves.

One of these visual allusions is Tracey Moffatt’s 1989 series Something More, in which a young woman’s yearning to escape her rural surroundings ends in the image of a brutal death, a body sprawled on an open road three hundred miles from the city of Brisbane.  The image all too graphically invokes the deaths of Indigenous women on country roads and highways in the years before and after.

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These contemporary representations connect to far older stories of violence. In Dale Harding’s Black Days in the Dawson River Country (2016) three unworn dresses mark the 1857 killing of an Aboriginal woman by a settler who used the pretext that she had worn a dress from his mother’s wardrobe to justify his act of murder.

In Laurel Nannup’s Quirriup (2016)the figure of a lone woman ‘standing in front of her mia-mia next to a river of blood and a sea of floating bodies’ commemorates the Pinjarra massacre of 1834.

In this case study from the artist, we adopt ‘a river of  blood and sea of floating bodies’ as a continuing motif to evoke the killing of Indigenous women in a national ‘crime spree’, which is ‘vaporous’ in the sense of being both all-pervasive and untraceable.


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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.

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