Targeting of Indigenous Women 2c - Visual Traces


Visual Traces

[imagecaption] Laurel Nannup, Quirriup 2016 (second state), Woodcut print on rag paper, 120 x 100 cm. Photo: Simon Hewson, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist and Campbelltown Arts Centre. [/imagecaption]


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 colonial contexts, the dumping of Indigenous bodies in rivers has been used as one way of destroying the evidence of settler crimes.

The Pinjarra massacre resonates historically with the 1816 Appin Massacre (NSW), in which Indigenous women, men and children were killed by armed settler forces who drove them over a gorge and into the Cataract River. Working under Governor Lachlan Macquarie’s proclamation to ‘rid the land of troublesome blacks,’  the Appin Massacre is the first known Australian instance of the destruction of massacre evidence through the dumping of Indigenous bodies in rivers. Tess Allas and David Garneau’s landmark exhibition, With Secrecy and Despatch, brought together Indigenous artworks that ‘dealt directly with the massacre or that drew on the brutalities’ that transpired across both the Australian and Canadian settler-colonial states.

In another instance of making visible the colonial killings of the present, the installation Sorry for your Loss brought together artwork and visual and audio performances to tell ‘the true story of the lives of the women who have died while in custody’.


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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.