Michael Jalaru Torres
Cooee Art Gallery
What is being NATIVE and how does a NATIVE person see the world?
The landscape talks to us through colours and texture far beyond what the untrained eye can see – through the shift in colours in the sky and water, the contrast from land to sea and the emotional connection to country.
Being NATIVE in the past was a negative experience, with a system that was designed to constantly hold down NATIVE people and take away or not recognise our rights and values. Being NATIVE was viewed as being literally part of the landscape, like livestock that was owned and abused.
Being NATIVE today reflects on the survival and resistance of not only the first peoples of this land but also the longest living culture on the planet. Culture is in a revival stage and the values of looking after country have become mainstream. NATIVE people are at the forefront of protecting land and sea and the native animals that share this land.
The systemic injustice of Australia’s past policies and views of being NATIVE has been hidden for generations, but the use of modern storytelling has started to illuminate this history for a wider audience. Hopefully this series, as an abstract slice of what NATIVE means as a word, connection and view point, can shift the audience from ignorance to empathy to make change for the future.
Michael Jalaru Torres is a Djugan and Yawuru man with tribal connections to Jabirr Jabirr and Gooniyandi people. He is inspired by the unique landscapes and people of the Kimberley region, which feature prominently in his work. His photography draws on his own stories and personal history and explores contemporary social and political issues facing Indigenous people. Much of his work involves conceptual and innovative portraiture and abstract landscape photography. He regularly experiments with different mediums and is interested in expanding his photography into installations and motion work and pushing the boundaries of how conceptual photography can be used in virtual reality.
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