Deathscapes

Ward 2b - Locked Up Lands

Deathscapes

Locked Up Lands, Country Encaged

This painting, by an artist we have yet to identify, circulated shortly after the death of Mr Ward, encapsulates the essential elements of our analysis: Aboriginal sovereignty, colonial law and practices of removal from Country.

It depicts a red landscape that appears to signify Ngaanyatjarra Country cut through by a road, the marker of invasion and colonisation, and of the imposition of missions, reserves and mines across the land. For many Ngaanyatjarra, the road is the means of removal away from Country to prison.

For Mr Ward the road proved to be a mode of carceral death.

The surrounding landscape of the painting, marked by what appear to be motifs of traditional Ngaanyatjarra patterning, are vertically scored by prison bars, locked and bolted, emphasizing the pervasive presence of the carceral, and the symbolic encaging of the land itself.

The black hands grasping the bars reflect the perspective of debarred Aboriginal spectators, themselves incarcerated, as they bear witness to the movement of this living coffin through their land. The image is suffused with the intense emotional impact of the violent death of their elder and leader on Ngaanyatjarra hearts and spirits.

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A flyer for a protest organised by the Deaths in Custody Watch Committee uses the same motif of hands grasping prison bars. It reads 'Ward Protest Action: Wednesday 22nd September 2010: 10am-12.00pm, 18-32 Parliament Place, West Perth. Deaths in Custody Watch Committee & Daisy Ward are appearing before the Parliamentary Inquiry into the transportation of detained persons. Please join with us to demand: - The Department of Corrective Services resume the sole responsibility, management and delivery of all custodial transport. - The immediately termination of the contract between the Department of Corrective Services and G4S for the transportation of detained persons. - An end to the privatisation of prisons and custodial services.'
[imagecaption] First Nations Deaths in Custody Watch Committee (Inc.), Ward Protest Action flyer, 2010. [/imagecaption]

 


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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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