ATVP celebrates NAIDOC Week with a specially curated exhibition by eminent contemporary aboriginal art curator Djon Mundine OAM.
Stars Sky Trees Breeze’s focal point is a photographic series (of the same title) by Jagath Dheerekara, a Sydney-based documentary and reportage photographic artist of Lankan origin. Dheerasekara has captured a series of makeshift outdoor beds, on an invited stay during 2009 and 2010 with the Alyawarr people in the central Australia’s Ampilatwatja community, Northern Territory.
Ampilatwatja, located 320km northeast of Alice Springs, is home for less than 1000 Alyawarre people. Their struggle to survive 200+ years of colonisation has been complicated further since 2007 by the introduction of the Northern Territory Intervention - of which Ampilatwatja is a prescribed community.
Many in Amplilatwatja consider the intervention as "an invasion, total disempowerment and a revoking of hard won land rights" and in July 2009, Alyawarr elders of Ampilatwatja walked off the prescribed area controlled by the government and camped on Aboriginal freehold land out of the control of the intervention.
"On July 14 2009 we, Elders from the Ampilatwatja community, walked out of our houses and set up camp in the bush. We are fed up with the federal government's Northern Territory Intervention, controls and measures, visions and goals forced onto us from outside. We felt we were outcasts and isolated from all decision making - there has been no meaningful consultation... We therefore have no intention of going back there. We intend to stay here until our demands are met.” Richard Downs, Alyawarr community spokesperson, October 2009.
“My main purpose of being there was to capture the Walk-off. Meanwhile, during my many walks around the community I noticed that almost all Aboriginal families in the community had a makeshift bed in the open air. ” Jagath Dheerasekara.