What's on
Shop + Visit
Eat + Drink
Venue Hire
People + Stories
What's on

The Blak Infinite: Richard Bell's EMBASSY

Free
First Peoples
This is a past event
Free
First Peoples

Dates

1 June-16 June 2024
Various times

Venue

Main Square

Access

Lift access
Wheelchair accessible

Getting There

A free First Nations-led space for forging alternate futures and dialogue in support of Aboriginal rights.

In January 1972 four First Nations men—Michael Anderson, Billie Craigie, Bert Williams and Tony Coorey—set themselves up under a beach umbrella outside Federal Parliament to protest against Australian government policies oppressing First Peoples and to demand land rights. They declared their spot the Aboriginal Embassy. Within months they were joined by thousands of protesters, and Gough Whitlam was visiting to discuss their five-point plan.

Nearly 40 years later artist and activist Richard Bell, a Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang man, created his work Embassy, a canvas tent that encourages rigorous discussion and First Nations lead political discourse, surrounded by painted protest signs reminiscent of the original. It was a tribute and continuance of the first Aboriginal Embassy and its groundbreaking moment in Australian political history.

Like the original, Bell’s Embassy is a space for reflecting the continued struggle for Aboriginal rights and self-determining space in Australia. It’s travelled the world—most recently to London’s Tate Modern Art Museum, installed in the infamous ‘Turbine Hall’, and to Documenta Fifteen in Kassel Germany—addressing local differences in race and politics through talks and screenings.

Now it’s back in Naarm for The Blak Infinite in Fed Square. It’s free and open for screenings, with talks with activists, writers and artists each Saturday of the festival. Together guests and audiences will explore questions of social justice, land rights, environment, sovereignty, and coalition-building.

“The Aboriginal Tent Embassy is many things. To most Aboriginal people it is a symbol of resistance to the colonial power structure that still oppresses us.” — Richard Bell

EMBASSY Talks

Listen to conversations in this free First Nations-led space that forges alternate futures and hosts dialogue in support of First Peoples rights.

“Colonisation and Imperialism have devastated societies everywhere. Embassy gives voice to those who continue to suffer the consequences of that devastation.” – Richard Bell.

Dates: 1, 8 & 15 June
Time: 11am-12pm, 12.15pm-1.15pm & 1.30pm-2.30pm (please note that 1.30pm-2.30pm will not be going ahead on 15 June)
Price: Free

Keep an eye on the chalk board for film screening times and speaker information.

Film Screenings

When: Sunday-Friday, 10am-5pm

Bell’s Theorem 2022
Duration 4:06 minutes
Richard Bell

Ningla A-Na
Duration 72 minutes
Producer & Director Alessandro Cavadini
Advice: Adult Themes, Coarse Language

A legendary documentary about the Aboriginal Tent Embassy

No Tin Shack 2022
Duration 7:24 minutes

“I still remember the day a large vehicle pulled up outside my home on the outskirts of the town of Mitchell. I lived on a small plot of land that I believe was part of an Aboriginal Reserve or Land reserved for Aboriginal people (Aborigines). Soon after, there was a loud knocking on our front door.

At the door was a pallid white man, dressed in a pressed white shirt and dark (possibly blue) tie accompanied by grey shorts and knee-high whitish socks. His wide brimmed hat did nothing to hide this man’s arrogance and air of superiority to which I took an instant dislike.

He was the Booringa Shire Council Health Inspector. He started talking to my mother just as another heavy vehicle began to approach our place. He asked if we had received a notice to leave. She answered that we didn’t have running water, electricity or sewerage, let alone a letterbox with a home delivery postal service (forgetting to mention the school bus that drove right past our reserve without picking us up). Nevertheless, Mr Health Inspector ordered us to pack our belongings so he could proceed to demolish our home. We were stunned to say the least.

We knew there weren’t any places to move to in Mitchell because the Booringa Shire Council had already demolished twenty or more homes from the Mitchell Yumba, the main Aboriginal Reserve. The Sergeant of Police asked my mother if we had anywhere to move to and she replied that we hadn’t. He turned to the Health Inspector and instructed him to stop the proceedings because we didn’t have anywhere else to go.

I could see that he was very disappointed, which cheered up my brother Marshall and I, if only momentarily. He stormed over to his car and sped off into town. Sometime later, he reappeared to recommence his dirty work.

We found out later that there were no vacant properties in Mitchell at that time. However, there were two condemned houses. Mr Health Inspector apparently arranged for one of those houses to be uncondemned where we didn’t live happily ever after.

Uncondemned. Is that a word?”

Richard Bell, 2022

 

Fed Square and RISING present The Blak Infinite, co-curated by Kimberley Moulton (Yorta Yorta) and Kate ten Buuren (Taungurung).