Culture warriors: the inaugural National Indigenous Art Triennial in Canberra
The inaugural NIAT offers a different type of survey from the well-known and long-established Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Award. Unlike the latter, the NIAT is not a prize-driven exhibition; it has no pretences to being comprehensive or representative, and aims to be tightly curated with comparatively few artists (I would have preferred even fewer).
Culture Warriors, the inaugral National Indigenous Art Triennial (NIAT), is the National Gallery of Australia's major summer exhibition, running October 2007 through February 2008, and then touring to state galleries in Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane into 2009. The exhibition is curated by the NGA's Senior Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Brenda L. Croft. Culture Warriors is ambitious in scale, filling the entirety of the NGA's temporary exhibition galleries with work by thirty artists. In his foreword in the hefty exhibition catalogue, NGA Director Ron Radford emphasises the symbolic nature of the exhibition. Culture Warriors marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of the NGA, the fortieth anniversary of the 1967 referendum to include Indigenous Australians in the census, and the fiftieth anniversary of NAIDOC, the National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee. Radford also notes that the exhibition coincides with the commencement of the NGA's building redevelopment, stage one of which includes a new wing for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art. Art Monthly asked three writers to provide a quick, short response to the exhibition.