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Indigenous artists at NGV Triennial to celebrate Country and question colonial legacies

Rachael Knowles -

The National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) has announced the artists and designers who will be exhibited in the 2020 NGV Triennial.

Exploring contemporary issues, NGV Triennial is a large-scale exhibition of international modern art, design and architecture. It will host 86 projects by more than 100 creatives and collectives from over 30 countries as they delve into issues of representation and race, isolation, climate change, and speculation on the future.

NGV Triennial will show thought-provoking and diverse work from Ethiopia, Germany, Wales, England, the United States, France, Japan, Spain, South Africa, Turkey and Australia.

"The NGV Triennial offers visitors a significant opportunity to explore how we use art to express ourselves, communicate and consider the world as it is, while also asking how we would like it to be. Artists, designers and architects of the twenty-first century perform a vital role in giving form to our collective imagination, fears and aspirations," said NGV Director, Tony Ellwood AM.

"We are all living in a world in flux: there has never been a more important moment to celebrate human capability than now."

This year, First Nations women will be featured and celebrated in the NGV Triennial.

A comprehensive display of work from Yolngu artist, Dhambit Mununggurr, will be on display at the Triennial. Painting only with her left hand after an accident left her with limited mobility, Mununggurr depicts Country through shades of blue across 15 large-scale bark paintingsâ€"some of which exceed three metres tall. She has also painted nine hollow poles.

Waddi Waddi, Yorta Yorta and Ngarrindjeri artist, Glenda Nicholls, will also appear in the NGV Triennial. Her work consists of multiple woven finger knots that create a net adorned with feather flowers. Nicholls' work speaks to the knowledge, skills and passion passed down through generations of Aboriginal women along with acknowledging the central role of women in traditional fishing practices.

NGV Triennial also features Quandamooka woman and contemporary artist, Megan Cope. Her work Unprecedented calls into question the colonial legacies in modern society.

"For me colonialism sets the precedent. There is no such thing as unprecedented," said Cope.

"To say that it is unprecedented, everything that we are experiencing, is to negate any sense of responsibility to the past."

"That is what is getting me angry ... it is very typical of the colonial project to not have any responsibility and completely disregard the responsibility."

"We aren't conditioned in this country; mainstream culture doesn't think about being responsible. We aren't encouraged to be responsible."

Cope is excited at the potential exposure NGV Triennial gives her work.

"I am really fortunate because it is going into a big institution, it's going to be seen by a lot of people and hopefully my artist's statement will be read and people can consider this," she said.

This is the second instalment of the NGV Triennial which began in 2017. It will open at NGV International on December 19 and is a free exhibition.

By Rachael Knowles

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