“No Man’s Land” - that’s how the English defined Australia at the time of its discovery and this was enough to justify its colonisation. The Aboriginal people that lived on the continent for tens of thousands of years where decimated by massacres, disease and hunger after having lost their lands and their rights, even being erased from the official annals of history. In 1992, a stunning sentence from the High Court overturned the age-old principle of “terra nullius”, recognising the ancient relationship between the Aborigene and the islanders of the Torres Strait with the territory of Australia. And it is from this crucial moment that the exhibition at the Tate Modern really begins, investigating through art the stories of subjugation and post-colonial issues, political tensions and connections that the most ancient living cultures maintain with their homelands. Telling the tale are almost thirty works by Australian artists, many of which were purchased jointly by the Tate and the MCA in Sydney to pay homage to the first inhabitants of the continent and recognise their invaluable role in protecting the environment. On display, a variety of voices, languages, techniques and visions. Along with the works by Aboriginal artists who are also Elders in their community, created with traditional materials, such as clay and tree bark, there are videos, photos, paintings and graphics that take on history and the most pressing current issues. In the photos of Up in the Sky, for example, Tracey Moffatt evokes the story of the “stolen generations”, the native children who were, up to the 1970s, taken from their families to be educated in missions, while the performance Jabiluka U02 by Bonita Ely gives voice to the concerns of the Aborigene regarding the extraction of uranium from their land.
Seventy years of encounters, clashes, journeys and metamorphoses, but, above all, an explosion of creativity - all this at the Tate Britain in the largest exhibition ever dedicated to the artistic ties between the Caribbean and the United Kingdom.