Confronting the Frontier Wars: International Perspectives

Sat 30 Jun 18, 12.30pm–6pm

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Past program

NGV International

Clemenger BBDO Auditorium
Ground Level

Please note the venue for this program has moved to the Clemenger BBDO Auditorium, NGV International.

The NGV, in collaboration with the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Monash University, presents an afternoon of keynote presentations, convened panel discussions and musical performance, featuring leading academics, artists and trailblazers, from across the world, who are working to empower memories of loss and survival in the wake of colonisation, war and genocide.

This program is the concluding event of the RR.Memorial Forum and is convened by Brook Andrew, the Chief Investigator of the Australian Research Council project ‘Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial’ with mentoring by Professor Marcia Langton and research assistance by Dr Jessica Neath.

Includes an optional tour of Colony: Australia 1770–1861 and Colony: Frontier Wars from 11.00am – 12.00pm with NGV curators Judith Ryan and Myles Russell-Cook. Please meet at the exhibition entrance at NGV Australia at 10.45am.


12.30–12.45pm: Welcome To Country
N’arweet Carolyn Briggs, Boon Wurrung elder and Founder, Boon Wurrung Foundation

12:50–1.00pm: Introduction
Brook Andrew, Wiradjuri artist

1.00–2.00pm: Making Memorials Matter: Remembering Atrocity
Prof Annie E. Coombes, Professor and Founding Director, Peltz Gallery and Professor of Material and Visual Culture, University of London

2.00–2.30pm: Break

2.30–3.30pm: Truth Telling — Displaying and Interpreting Trauma
Given the current demand for truth-telling of Australia’s frontier histories, this panel ponders the importance of local and global truth-telling of historical knowledges around trauma. What form can truth-telling can take? Particularly for young people who inherit these legacies, how can we introduce these histories? What can we learn from international educational programs regarding traumatic histories?

Brook Andrew, Wiradjuri artist

Judy Watson, Waanyi artist
Savina Sirik, Team Leader, Transitional Justic Program, Documentation Center of Cambodia and PhD candidate, Peace and Development Research, School of Global Studies, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Dr Pia Brous, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist
Prof Marcos Moreira, Professor of Information Society, University of Brasilia

3.45–4.15pm: Illusions on Self Motion by Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe
Includes a Q&A with Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe, Ben Opie and Dr Greg Lehman

4.15–5.15pm: Revealing the Frontier Wars — How to Make Loss and Trauma Visible
There is hope that the acknowledgement of hidden histories in the public sphere will bring healing. Yet there is debate about how to reveal, pitting historical documentary evidence against the veracity of oral memories. Where there remains a climate of denial, how do artists and grass-roots events shape and shift the mainstream?

Shiraz Bayjoo, artist

Prof Lyndall Ryan, Research Professor, Centre for the History of Violence, Humanities Research Institute, University of Newcastle
Nelson Abiti, Curator of Ethnography and History, Ugandan National Museum
Otto Braided Hair, Community Representative, The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site

5.15–6.00pm: Closing Remarks
Prof Marcia Langton AM, Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies, The University of Melbourne


N’arweet Carolyn Briggs is a Boon Wurrung elder from Victoria who is recognised as a keeper of the history and genealogies of her people. She is a language and linguistics expert and is dedicated to recording her Boon Wurrung language in oral and written form. She has been active in community development, Native Title, cultural preservation and cultural promotion. Carolyn established Australia’s first Aboriginal childcare centre and is founder and chairperson of the Boon Wurrung Foundation, which she set up in 2005 to help connect Aboriginal youth to their heritage. Carolyn is also a member of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

Brook Andrew is a Wiradjuri artist whose interdisciplinary practice examines dominant narratives, often relating to colonialism and modernist histories. Through museum and archival interventions and curatorial projects, Brook aims to make forgotten stories visible and offer alternative choices for interpreting history in the world today. Apart from drawing inspiration from vernacular objects and the archive he travels internationally to work with communities and various private and public collections. Most recently Brook presented Ahy-kon-uh- klas-tik, an interrogation of the archives of the Van Abbemuseum, Holland and in 2017 he created an intervention into the collection of the Musée d’ethnographie de Genève, Switzerland. His major survey exhibition The Right to Offend is Sacred, was presented at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2017.

Professor Annie E. Coombes is Professor and Founding Director of the Peltz Gallery, School of Arts and Professor of Material and Visual Culture in the Department of History of Art, Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom. Annie is a cultural historian specialising in the history and culture of British colonialism and its legacy in the present, particularly in Africa. She has produced key publications that investigate contemporary state and community-led memorial projects and museum approaches to difficult histories, including History After Apartheid: Visual Culture and Public Memory in Democratic South Africa (2003) and more recently co-authored Managing Heritage, Making Peace: History, Identity and Memory in Contemporary Kenya (2013).

Judy Watson is a Brisbane-based, Waanyi artist, exhibiting artworks internationally since 1995 that address the histories of massacre in Australia. Major commissions include the site-specific work at the Musée du quai Branly, Paris and she was awarded the National Gallery of Victoria’s Clemenger Art Award in 2006. Judy’s work is included in the exhibition Colony: Frontier Wars.

Savina Sirik is Team Leader, Transitional Justice Program, Documentation Center of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia and current PhD candidate, Peace and Development Research, School of Global Studies, the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. Since 2004, Savina has worked for the Document Center of Cambodia, including the current development the Sleuk Rith Institute, a major complex in Phnom Penh, that will be a memorial and international centre for genocidal studies.

Dr Pia Brous is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist. Pia worked for many years in clinical practice with children, youth, young adults, and their families; in the public and private sectors; and with Indigenous Australians living in Northern Queensland and the Torres Strait. She is an Honorary Psychiatry Fellow at the Dax Centre in Melbourne, where she teaches about mental illness and psychological trauma via the media of creative arts.

Professor Marcos Moreira is Professor of Information Society in the Foreign Languages applied to Multilingualism and Information Society course at the University of Brasilia. Marcos holds a PhD in Letters from the University of São Paulo (USP) École normale supérieure (ENS-rue d’Ulm) on the manuscript archives of Jacques Derrida. His experience in the area of Letters, Communication and Epistemology is applied mainly in the reflection of the following themes: alterity, representation, technique, writing, language and national identity in the globalized world of the information society.

Stéphanie Kabanyana Kanyandekwe is a Rwandan-British composer and multidisciplinary artist. Through her viewpoint as a synaesthetic ‘third-culture kid’, her research-based arts practice investigates the construction and archiving of culture through transcription into musical score. Stéphanie artistically expresses her ongoing research findings in graphic music scores and textiles, narrative and performance ceremony, and cultural contextualisation through public cross-generational conversations.

Ben Opie is an oboist whose talents extend across the entire repertoire for oboe. He has performed at the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music since its inception in 2013, and in 2015 presented a mixed media presentation of new works including the world premiere House of the Beehives by Melody Eotvos for flute, oboe, electronics and video and the Australian premiere of Johannes Kretz’s Urban Gypsies for oboe, electronics and silent film. He co-founded Inventi Ensemble in 2014 and is co-artistic director with Melissa Doecke. Ben has collaborated with many different artists including working with indigenous artists in remote communities, collaborating with them musically through workshops and performances.

Dr Greg Lehman, a descendant of the Trawulwuy people of North East Tasmania, recently completed a PhD in Art History at the University of Tasmania, and a Masters degree in the History of Art and Visual Cultures from Oxford University. Greg is a member of the National Museum of Australia’s Indigenous Reference Group and is currently working with Mona (Museum of Old and New Art) and the Macquarie Point Development Corporation on the re-development of Macquarie Point, Hobart, into a Truth and Reconciliation Park, that acknowledges and celebrates Tasmania’s Aboriginal history.

Shiraz Bayjoo is a London-based artist currently working in the Indian Ocean region. His practice spans painting, photography, and video. Originally from Mauritius, Shiraz studied at the University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. He was artist in residence at Whitechapel Art Gallery during 2011, and has exhibited with Tate Britain, and is a recipient of the Gasworks fellowship. Shiraz’s works investigate the legacies of European colonialism and ideas of nationhood in an exploration of identity through the use of photographs and artefacts stored in public and personal archives.

Professor Lyndall Ryan is Research Professor in the Centre for the History of Violence in the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Newcastle. Since the 1970s Professor Lyndall has researched Australian frontier violence and in July 2017 launched the website Colonial Frontier Massacres in Eastern Australia 1788-1872.

Nelson Abiti is the current Curator of Ethnography and History at the Ugandan National Museum. Abiti is involved in post-conflict community reconciliation activities in northern Uganda, focussing on displacement, post-trauma, and healing within communities through memorials. This year, Abiti and a team of curators from Kenya and Egypt, working with the British Museum, are presenting ‘Road to Reconciliation,’ a touring exhibition of South Sudanese refugee stories from camps in northern Uganda.

Otto Braided Hair is a community representative from The Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site, which is located in Kiowa County, Colorado. Descendants of those who survived the horrific events of the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre, USA, when hundreds of Arapaho and Cheyenne peoples were murdered by US Cavalry troops, continue to work with the National Parks Service in developing the Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site. Opened in 2007, the site honours those killed in 1864 and pays respects to their descendants. Attending the RR.Memorial Forum are Mr Gail Ridgely of the Northern Arapaho and Otto Braided Hair of the Northern Cheyenne.

Yhonnie Scarce, who belongs to the Kokatha and Nukunu peoples, majored in glass at the South Australian School of Art, Adelaide, and completed a Master of Fine Art (Research) at Monash University, Melbourne, in 2010. Scarce’s work often references the on-going effects of colonisation on Aboriginal people. In particular her research focus has explored the impact of the removal and relocation of Aboriginal people from their homelands and the forcible removal of Aboriginal children from their families. Scarce’s work is seen in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, The Art Gallery of South Australia, National Gallery Australia, Flinders University Art Museum, the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, and the University of South Australia.

Professor Marcia Langton AM, descendant of the Yiman people of Queensland, is Foundation Chair of Australian Indigenous Studies at The University of Melbourne. Marcia is the mentor for the ‘Representation, Remembrance and the Memorial’ project. One of the most significant voices in public debate on many issues relating to Indigenous Australia, she gave the 2012 Boyer Lectures, “The Quiet Revolution: Indigenous People and the Resources Boom” on ABC Ratio National, and was a member on the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians. Marcia is an anthropologist and geographer, and has produced a large body of knowledge in the areas of political and legal anthropology, Indigenous agreements and engagement with the minerals industry, and Indigenous culture and art.

Talks and discussions Colonialism Indigenous Colony NGV International