Indigenous academic plans Photography Keynote in wake of Venice Biennale

20 May 2021

ATSIS Unit Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr r e a Saunders has accepted an invitation to give a keynote address at a major Photography Symposium planned by Griffith University Art Museum (GUAM) and Queensland College of Art (QCA).

Dr r e a Saunders (inset and below) was part of the aabaakwad 2022 (Day 2) Knot in the Narrative Panel at the 2022 Venice Biennale.

The University of Queensland researcher and lecturer will reflect on her nationally-respected practice and approach to photography at the 23 July event designed for postgraduate students, artists and academics.

The Symposium will address broad issues in the field of photography, extending the program GUAM established in 2017 with the Gerhard Richter associated symposium ‘Questions for Painters’ and continued in 2020 with ‘Provocations for Painters’ which accompanied the exhibition Robert MacPherson: Nominal Gestures.

r e a has recently returned from the 2022 Venice Biennale (22-25 April) as a participant in aabaakwad (it clears after a storm) - a unique annual Indigenous-led conversation on Indigenous art by those who create, curate and write about it.

A slide from r e a’s presentation.

The UQ academic was invited to participate in the aabaakwad panel titled: 'The Knot of Narrative’. A recording is available for the 2pm panel (timeline - 3:06:00).

Now in its fifth year, aabaakwad was part of programming for the 59th Venice Biennale, in partnership with the Sami Pavilion exhibition, in the Nordic Pavilion. Based at the Don Orione Artigianelli Cultural Center, it showcased musicians, performance artists, poets, filmmakers and more through screenings, music nights and dedicated performances.

“The aabaakwad gathering alternates annually between Toronto and international venues, showcasing dynamic dialogue examining themes, materials and experiences in Indigenous art practice globally,” r e a said.

“Founded in 2018 by Wanda Nanibush (Anishinaabe, Canada), aabaakwad brings together over 70 creatives from all over the world. It is Indigenous-led and artist-centred.

“It has been seeded by its presenting partner the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto, Canada), and main funders the Canada Council for the Arts and the Australian Arts Council.

“Internationally, our presenting partners have been the Sydney Biennial under artistic direction of Brook Andrew (Wiradjuri, Australia), MCA Sydney, Sydney Opera House in 2020 and the Nordic Pavilion whose curatorial leadership is Beaska Niillas (Sámi, Norway/Sapmi), Liisa-Rávná Finbog (Sámi, Norway/Sapmi), and Katya Garcia Anton, Office of Contemporary Art Norway and Oceans Space.”

r e a with other members of the Australian contingent at the 2022 Venice Biennale.

r e a is a renowned artist, curator, activist, academic, cultural educator and creative thinker who is a descendant from the Gamilaraay/Wailwan people from the Central West NSW; and Biripi people from the mid-North Coast of NSW.

In what is a busy 2022, r e a’s video work from the ‘PolesApart’ series, which is part of the National Gallery of Australia Collection, will be touring in the Ever Present: First Peoples Art of Australia exhibition.

Curated by Tina Baum, Ever Present includes the work of over 80 artists as it considers seven overarching and interlinked themes: Ancestors + Creators; Country + Constellations; Community + Family; Culture + Ceremony; Trade + Influence; Resistance + Colonisation; and Innovation + Identity. Together the works underline the ever-present existence of our First Peoples.

r e a has also been invited to attend the Singapore leg of the exhibition to speak about the making of the ‘PolesApart’ work, in September this year.