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A Widening Gap: The Intervention, 10 Years On

BY The Cross Art Projects | 29-Jun-2017
The Intervention was quietly extended until 2022 — despite over 50 damning reports into the ‘widening gap', most published in the last 10 years. This exhibition is in solidarity with those who continue to endure the Northern Territory ‘emergency response’ (NTER). The artists put a human face to the kinds of communities that have been vilified by their own government.

Artists: Anon Young Artist in Don Dale with printer Franck Gohier, Alison Alder, Nick Bland, Margaret Boko, Miriam Charlie, Brenda L. Croft, Jack Green, Iltja Ntjarra / Many Hands (Mervyn Rubuntja, Lenie Namatjira, Reinhold Inkamala, Vanessa Inkamala, Gloria Pannka, Betty Naparula Wheeler) Fiona MacDonald, Chips Mackinolty, Teena McCarthy, Sally M Mulda, Mumu Mike Williams, Jason Wing.

Joined by Campaign Groups: STICS, Sydney (poster selection by Emily Valentine) and Intervention Rollback Action Group (IRAG), Alice Springs

The Intervention was quietly extended until 2022 — despite over 50 damning reports into the ‘widening gap', most published in the last 10 years. This exhibition is in solidarity with those who continue to endure the Northern Territory ‘emergency response’ (NTER). The artists put a human face to the kinds of communities that have been vilified by their own government.

A Widening Gap, opens at a decisive moment and reflects on a third world that is remote from the privileged 'connectedness' of first world Australia. It is a world living under a disabled Racial Discrimination Act and in circumstances where many communities were forced into 99-year leases for the essential services that we take for granted. The artists in A Widening Gap come from NT and non-NT and are Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, and include a young former resident of Don Dale Juvenile institution and some 60-somethings.

Ten years ago white authorities said their Northern Territory ‘emergency response’ (NTER) — on the eve of a Federal election — was an urgent response to the ‘Little Children are Sacred’ report into the neglect and abuse of Aboriginal children in the Northern Territory (April 2007, P. Anderson and R. Wild). The Government sent in the army, the Federal Police and doctors to ‘stabilize’ virtually every single Aboriginal community in the Territory. They terrorized some 77 communities to ‘close the gap’ between first and third world Australia. Eighteen new police stations were built with 50 additional police. Change of government changed only the occupation’s name to the biting irony of ‘Stronger Futures’.

Ten years later there was another media storm. The amnesia of urban Australia was disturbed when, in late 2016, the ABC aired evidence of the systemic use of force and abuse of Aboriginal children in detention in Darwin’s Don Dale institution — the use of torture techniques such as spit hoods and restraint chairs, unlawful duration of solitary confinement, strip searches at whim and gassing. It has become easier to incarcerate young people than to educate them. This exposure forced a Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory.

The artists ask 'What now?' This is the second in a series of exhibitions that witness and discuss The Intervention and Australia’s ongoing human rights abuse. The first exhibition Ghost Citizens: Witnessing the Intervention, was presented in 2012 to coincide with the Sydney Biennale and shown at The Cross Art Projects, Project Contemporary Artspace Wollongong, Counihan Gallery, Melbourne and NCCA, Darwin. (See links.) Some of the original artists have been joined by a growing band of artist activists.

Co-curators: Jo Holder and Djon Mundine OAM