Artist’s talk to shed light on billboard promoting ‘Aboriginal art?'

Published on 10 May 2022

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If you’ve recently driven along Seventh Street near Etiwanda Avenue you may have noticed a large billboard featuring words including ‘Aboriginal Art?’ and ‘(1800) Authentic’, and assumed it was promoting Aboriginal artwork.

Well, you’d be half right, as the large, prominently-displayed billboard IS the artwork itself!

The work of contemporary artist Steven Rhall, who is of Taungurung heritage, the billboard - titled Ideas of First Nations art practice and late capitalism – is a shining example of his work, which pokes fun at institutions, and the power they rely on and evoke.

In this instance, Rhall’s reinterpretation of the roadside advertisement questions how art can be commoditised, and the way it can both appropriate and legitimise First Nation’s practice.

Featuring a photo of himself as a savvy salesperson, the billboard asks a simple question: ‘Aboriginal Art?’, and in a nod to sleazy sales tropes, the billboard boldly answers its own question, declaring that Aboriginal art is just a phone call away at ‘(1800) Authentic’.

His latest work has been delivered in partnership with Mildura Arts Centre (MAC) and NETS Victoria, and will be the subject of an artist’s talk at MAC this Saturday, 14 May at 4.30pm.

NETS Victoria is the peak body for visual art, craft and design touring and the State’s only full-service visual arts touring organisation.

Councillor for Arts, Culture and Heritage Helen Healy said this weekend’s artist’s talk would provide a fascinating insight into Rhall’s work.

“This is a great opportunity to learn more about Rhall’s practice, the inspiration behind his work, or simply to satisfy your curiosity if you’ve seen the billboard and wanted to know more about it,” Cr Healy said.

The billboard will remain on display until Sunday, 5 June, and is part of a larger project which sees three First Nations artists’ work presented as regional roadside billboards.

Ideas of First Nations art practice and late capitalism is a Mildura Arts Centre exhibition with NETS Victoria. Curated by Jenna Rain Warwick




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