A Tribute to the Concrete Box (For Aunty Hyllus), Moorina Bonini(Download PDF)
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land in which I work and live, the Wurundjeri people and the Boonwurrung. I pay my respect to all Elders past, present and emerging of the Kulin Nations. Always Was, Always Will Be Aboriginal Land. Sovereignty has never been ceded.
My Great Aunt, Hyllus Maris, wrote a metaphor entitled ‘The Concrete Box’. This poetic text provides a new perspective of Aboriginal people within Australia and poses a question – when will the time come for all Kooris to have their freedom, peace of mind and their health? Three generations after and I continue to voice her question.
Aunty Hyllus is able allude to the history, the injustices and incarceration of Aboriginal people through her text, which is familiar and accessible to all. ‘The Concrete Box’ presents an example of colonial power structures, economic history and the disconnect from Country. Her writing asks for an action – from the reader themselves but also from the Australian society.
This new body of work is informed by Indigenous knowledge structures. Through the physical action of deconstruction, which occurs in the dismantling of a white cube, ‘A Tribute to the Concrete Box (For Aunty Hyllus)’ aims to begin the re-imagining of institutional space for Indigenous people.
Responding directly to the gallery space situated within the newly renovated Collingwood Yards, it is important to acknowledge the Indigenous histories of this place. I grew up being told stories from my mum about how Collingwood and Fitzroy were community hubs, which is evident in the number of Aboriginal Organizations located across these areas that are still present today. It is with this understanding, about the importance of this area and the stories that are embedded into this part of Melbourne by the local Indigenous community, that I have engaged a long term intervention with the gallery and the Collingwood Yards. When you open the right side windows in the gallery that face out onto Johnston Street, it is here you will find Victorian Aboriginal marking-making burnt into the raw wood.
Traditional tools will be used to break through the white walls of the white cube, in the aim to create an opportunity for the community to reclaim power and authority over their histories, their artworks and over the exhibition space itself. Speaking past structures that have historically erased Indigenous people, Moorina will instead highlight and re-centre Indigenous knowledge systems.
(Moorina Bonini, 2020)
Moorina Bonini is a proud descendant of the Yorta Yorta Dhulunyagen family clan of Ulupna and the Yorta Yorta and Woiwurrung Briggs/McCrae family. Moorina is an artist whose works are informed by her experiences as an Aboriginal and Italian woman. Her practice is driven by a self-reflexive methodology that enables the reexamination of lived experiences that have influenced the construction of her cultural identity. By unsettling the narrative placed upon Aboriginal people as a result of colonisation of Aboriginal Australia, Bonini’s practice is based within Indigenous knowledge systems and brings this to the fore.