Ideas of First Nations art practice and late capitalism
Steven Rhall Taungurung Ideas of First Nations art practice and late capitalism, 2021 digital photograph 8.3 x 1.80m Courtesy of the artist and MARS Gallery
Artists: Steven Rhall
Steven Rhall’s billboard, titled Ideas of First Nation art practice and late capitalism and delivered in partnership with Mildura Arts Centre, draws on both its location and the socio-political context of roadside adverts. Indicative of his practice at large, Rhall’s reinterpretation of the roadside advertisement aesthetic questions the commodification of art and the way it can both appropriate and legitimise First Nations practice. A Taungurung artist and the face of his own billboard, Rhall places himself at the centre of these questions. In character as a savvy salesperson with a questionable smile and suit, Rhall invites the audience to reckon with the context and meaning of contemporary art. Simultaneously vague and self-assured, the billboard asks a simple question: ‘Aboriginal Art?’ 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’. The economics and politics surrounding First Nations art, and the way in which this shapes the art and its audience, is at the crux of Rhall’s work. Whether or not audiences are familiar with Rhall’s subversive practice, Ideas of First Nation art practice and late capitalism will leave passers-by with questions, igniting introspection long after their car ride is finished.
This Mildura Arts Centre iteration of Billboards is the second of three in a project that sees First Nations artists partnered with regional galleries to produce a series of roadside billboards across regional Victoria.
Ideas of First Nation art practice and late capitalism is a Mildura Arts Centre exhibition with NETS Victoria, curated by Jenna Rain Warwick. Ideas of First Nation art practice and late capitalism is on display at 52 Seventh St, East Mildura VIC from 19 March 2022 – 5th June 2022.
This project has been supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria.