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“Who do you think we are” Artists turn the camera on themselves

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Indigenous students from Curtin University’s Centre for Aboriginal Studies (CAS) have turned the camera on themselves for an innovative and insightful photographic exhibition recently opened at the John Curtin Gallery.

“Who Do You Think We Are?” explores notions of identity and representation as the students challenge the viewer to reflect on their own ideas of Aboriginality.

Associate Lecturer, Robin Barrington from the Centre for Aboriginal Studies, the on-campus partners for the exhibition, said the viewer’s ideas of Aboriginality are often influenced by stereotypes and the student’s have set out to question these assumptions.

“The photographs put the subject in control of their own representation and create a dynamic space for their own voices to clearly define their own cultural, social and political identity,” Ms Barrington said.

The exhibition, which will run through to 30 May, features the work of 18 students who are completing the Aboriginal Bridging Course, which prepares Indigenous students for mainstream university study.

Michelle Webb, Co-ordinator of the Aboriginal Bridging Course, said the project, which is the first of its kind for CAS, was an incredible achievement for both staff and students.

“The project was conceived as a way of enabling the students to work across the various educational disciplines and most importantly, broaden their exposure to new and unfamiliar aspects of university life,” Ms Webb said.

“The exhibition is a way of empowering our students and creating for them a sense of their own identity and belonging as they become familiar with the campus and all it has to offer.”

Student Justin Obah said his work “Get a Hold of Our Culture Because its Fading Away” allowed him to question how Indigenous people represent themselves and how this reflects in the way that other people view them.

“This project was a fantastic opportunity for me to learn computer techniques in order to digitally manipulate my piece so that it better reflects my personality,” said Mr Obah.

“The hands on approach to this project helped to keep me enthusiastic and I feel that the more I worked with it, the more I got out of it.”

Brook Andrew Eye to Eye is being held as part of Foto Freo 2008 and is a Monash University Museum of Art Touring Exhibition.

The presenting partners for Brook Andrew ‘Eye to Eye’ are the John Curtin Gallery, Penrith Regional gallery and the Lewers Bequest.

The Gallery is open to the public and entry is free. Opening hours are between 12pm and 5pm Monday to Friday. The Gallery will be open from 1pm to 4pm on 25 May as a part of its Sunday@Curtin events.

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