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Blak arts event flips 'day of mourning' on its head

Nyk Carnsew -

Once marked by Aboriginal people as a day of mourning, Australia Day will be turned into a celebration of Indigenous cultural excellence at an iconic Sydney museum.

We Are Warriors - an advocacy group for Indigenous artists founded by the rapper Nooky - are reclaiming the controversial holiday, long associated with the nation's colonial history, in the Blak Powerhouse event.

The festival attracted 3000 attendees for its first edition on Australia Day in 2023 and it returns a year later to the Powerhouse Museum in inner-city Ultimo.

Yuin and Thunghutti man Nooky said the "power and resilience" demonstrated at the event changed how he felt about the January 26 date, which was famously marked by a group of Aboriginal campaigners in 1938 as the Day of Mourning.

He will perform with his supergroup 3%, which includes fellow Indigenous rappers Dallas Woods and Angus Fields.

Other performers include Becca Hatch and JK-47, who features in the documentary Through the Fire, which will screen at the event.

Blak Powerhouse is also presenting works from photographer Michael Cook and visual artists Shal and Tjukurpamaru, as well as a panel on Indigenous participation in arts and culture in Australia.

"I'm very passionate about raising their profile ... music artist, visual artist, dancers, curators, you name it," Nooky told AAP.

We Are Warriors was founded on January 26, 2022 and is based just a few blocks from the Powerhouse Museum.

The group organised the first Blak Powerhouse the following year.

"It really blew me away and I know people who were in attendance felt the same," Nooky said.

Powerhouse chief executive Lisa Havilah said she was proud to support the event and intended to continue hosting We Are Warriors annually on Australia Day.

"Nooky's taking a very contested day and making it a very empowering day full of positivity," she said.

The event begins at 5pm on Friday at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum.

Nyk Carnsew - AAP

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