Yhonnie Scarce Biography
Scarce is an Indigenous Australian female artist, born in South Australia, descendant to the Kokatha and Nukunu tribe’s people. Scarce is a young, aspiring Aboriginal artist who has exhibited her glassworks across the globe, including the Venice and current Sydney Biennale. Scarces’ work is emotionally and politically driven to expose the trauma of displacement and genocide and to address the social and political effects of ongoing colonisation of Indigenous peoples. In 2008, she became the recipient of the Inaugural Qantas Foundation Encouragement for Australian Contemporary Art Award and in 2007 received a Women in Research Fellowship. Scarce continues to pursue cultural exchanges to international audiences, while promoting the opportunity to expose historical and contemporary oppressive conditions used to suppress Australian Aboriginal people who are often associated as the racial Other, forged by the dominant Western culture.

Weak in Colour But Strong in Blood’ (2014)
Indigenous artist Yhonnie Scarce has constructed an installation called, ‘Weak in Colour But Strong in Blood’ that is currently being exhibited at The Art Gallery of New South Wales for the 19th Sydney Biennale. This constructed colonial room represents the containment of Western culture and science, exploring the continuing effects of the colonisation of Australian Indigenous peoples. Scarce evokes how Westerners have applied inhuman ways to control and speed up the elimination of a ‘primitive’ race, such as early 1900’s scientific practices, usually performed by white anthropologists and ethnologists on Indigenous Australian people. She also exposes this ongoing contemporary issue that Aboriginal peoples still remain victims under the rule of a Western colonial world. The constructed glass fruit skins vary in tones of black, symbolizing the decline and variation of Aboriginality and what the stereotypical Aboriginal person looks like. Scarce has strategically segregated each shade of glassworks to represent social and political issues of historical and contemporary Australian culture. The lighter coloured glassworks are separated, evoking the mixed blood Indigenous people, historically referencing their re-location, displacing their identity and cultural values. The broken, black and disfigured works have been discarded and rejected onto metal autopsy beds, representing Indigenous peoples’ place in society today and over the past 200 years. Scarce has specifically used glass fruit skins to embody the connection to traditional food gathering practices among Aboriginal women and also evoke the symbolic nature reference to the Commonwealth Government Flora and Fauna Act that had been amended in 1967. Blown glass fruits are metaphoric tools to represent Aboriginal people and their treatment overtime, reflecting and exposing their strength of culture and pride in their identity, no matter what shade of colour.

This installation evokes the history of Australia, testifying to the racism that is inherent in our culture, challenging the public to understand the extent of the violence, injustice and disposition of Australia’s first people. Scarce’s work educates and raises consciousness at the same time. The audience is expected to see this work as challenging and confronting, rather than comforting. Overall, this artwork sends out a powerful message and encourages the viewer to critique their own conscious views towards Indigenous peoples and Australia’s colonial history.

References
Biennale of Sydney (2014) Yhonnie Scarce, Accessed 22/4/2014, http://www.biennaleofsydney.com.au/19bos/artists/scarce/

Dianne Tanzer Gallery (2014) Yhonnie Scarce, Accessed 22/4/2014, http://diannetanzergallery.net.au/Yhonnie-Scarce/

Right Now (2014) Interview with Yhonnie Scarce, Accessed 22/04/2014, http://rightnow.org.au/artwork/witness-to-our-journey-interview-with-yhonnie-scarce/

University of South Australia (2014) Yhonnie Scarce, Accessed 22/4/2014, http://w3.unisa.edu.au/artarchitecturedesign/art/yhonniescarce.asp

 

 

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