BLAK C.O.R.E.

BLAK C.O.R.E. (Care of Radical Energy)

BLAK C.O.R.E. is a collective driven by First Nations methodologies, research and cultural practices focusing on walumarra (protection), yindyamarra gunhanha (ongoing respect) and murungidyal (healing).

The vision of BLAK C.O.R.E is to realise systemic change by reimagining how First Nations knowledges, cultural materials and communities are held within institutional spaces of museums, galleries and universities.

The BLAK C.O.R.E. collective is led by Dr Brook Garru Andrew with Budi Miller and comprises a growing international list of members including Carroll Go-Sam, Professor Brian Martin, Professor Marcia Langton, Megan Tamati-Quennell and Tiriki Onus.

The initiative is located in the Department of Museums & Collections at the University of Melbourne and is generously supported by the Mordant Family.

BLAK C.O.R.E. is activated through four interlocking actions in collaboration with Australian and international partners.

  1. Mordant Family BLAK C.O.R.E. Fellowships provide international and Australian fellows a rare opportunity to reflect on their practice and methodologies on healing, museums and connecting with communities.
  2. Support for First Nations-led projects and initiatives both within and beyond the University of Melbourne environment, such as the Indigenous-led gathering aabaakwad.
  3. A research archive made with BLAK C.O.R.E. fellows, invited scholars and community leaders, to celebrate new thought in First Nations methodologies focusing on walumarra (protection), yindyamarra gunhanha (ongoing respect) and murungidyal (healing).
  4. BLAK Circle Kinship Project nurtures systemic change within the Department of Museums & Collections by mentoring First Nations staff, building relationships across the department, creating safe spaces driven by principles of anti-racism and gender/sexual equality, and embedding First Nations ways of being and doing.

Terminology

The term ‘blak’ was coined by artist Destiny Deacon back in 1991. The trailblazing artist from Erub/Mer (Torres Strait) and K’ua K’ua (Cape York) spent most of her life in Melbourne on Kulin Country. She wanted to take the C out of ‘black’ as a way to reclaim the derogatory and colonialist language used against First Nations peoples in Australia. Blak is now used widely across Australia to celebrate a proud urban Aboriginal identity.

C.O.R.E. is shorthand for Care of Radical Energy and encompasses the urgent need for a duty of care when generating systemic change in cultural institutions and rethinking museum practices.

The Aboriginal words in the BLAK C.O.R.E. vision statement are from the Wiradjuri language, the matrilineal kinship group of Professor Brook Andrew who devised BLAK C.O.R.E as part of his new role as Director Reimagining Museums and Collections at the University of Melbourne. yindyamarra gunhanha, meaning ongoing respect, is a term coined by Brook as an alternative word to decolonisation.


People

The BLAK C.O.R.E. collective is led by Dr Brook Garru Andrew with Budi Miller and comprises a growing international list of members including Carroll Go-Sam, Professor Brian Martin, Professor Marcia Langton, Megan Tamati-Quennell and Tiriki Onus.

The collective is supported by Dr Jessica Neath, Planning and Research Coordinator for BLAK C.O.R.E. and Catherine Copley, Project Coordinator, Collections Projects at the University of Melbourne’s Museums and Collections.

Professor Brook Andrew, Director, Reimagining Museums & Collections

Brook Andrew’s matrilineal kinship is Wiradjuri, and Ngunnawal on his mother’s father’s line, and paternally he is Celtic. He is an artist, writer and scholar who is driven by the collisions of intertwined narratives, often emerging from the mess of what he has coined The Colonial Wuba (Hole). His practice, research and curatorial projects challenge the limitations imposed by colonial power structures, historical amnesia, stereotyping and complicity to centre Indigenous perspectives. Brook Andrew was artistic director of the groundbreaking First Nations and artist-led “NIRIN,” the 22nd Biennale of Sydney, 2020, recent projects include: co-curator of We Are Not All Just Human After All: Care, Repair, Healing scheduled to open in September 2022 at the Martin-Gropius-Bau, Berlin; International advisor to the Sámi Pavilion at the 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia 2022; Enterprise Professor, The University of Melbourne, Associate Researcher, Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, UK; ARC (Australia Research Council grant) with Dr Brian Martin: ARC Special Research Initiative for Australian Society, History and Culture: ‘More than a guulany (tree): Aboriginal knowledge systems’. The Director Reimagining Museums & Collections role with the University of Melbourne is a part time position enabling Brook to continue his artistic practice and other commitments.

Budi Miller is Senior Lecturer, Head of Acting in the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne, Australia

Budi Miller is Co-Artistic Director of The Theatre of Others. He is an associate teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework, a certified integrative studies practitioner, and an UNESCO designated master teacher of mask work. He teaches acting through an amalgamation of Balinese performance traditions with Mask Work, Fitzmaurice Voicework, Michael Chekhov, Clown, Viewpoints, Grotowski and Earl Gister’s techniques. He holds a B.F.A. in theatre from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. He is pursuing a practice as research PhD at the University of Melbourne. He has been an actor-director-writer-teacher in the United States, Australia, Singapore, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taipei, Malaysia, India, and Indonesia since 1992. He is a Balinese mask dancer and the first teacher to bring Fitzmaurice Voicework to Denmark, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taipei, Malaysia, China and Indonesia. He coached Michelle Williams for her Academy Award nominated performance in Ang Lee’s movie Brokeback Mountain. He coaches and collaborates with Jonathan Majors (The Last Black Man of San Francisco, Lovecraft Country: HBO) and Julian Elijah Martinez (Wu-Tang: An American Saga: Hulu). He has had the privilege of coaching and inspiring actors in many mediums: Broadway, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, major international film markets and theatres around the world. He has been on the faculties of The Chautauqua Theater Company from 2004-2018, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore 2009-2017. He has taught at Yale School of Drama, The Juilliard School, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, The Actors Center, Wayne State (MFA), The New School (MFA), SUNY Purchase College, University of Southern California, The Bill Esper Studio, Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts, The National Theatre Institute, Howard University, Western Michigan University, The National University of Singapore, The Queensland Theatre Company (Brisbane), Curtin University (Perth), and the Michael Chekhov Conference 2002. He was the Executive Director of the International Antonin Artaud Fringe Theatre Festival 2008. He was a featured presenter at the International VASTA conference in Mexico City 2010 and London 2014. He was the conference director for the first VASTA conference in Asia (Singapore) 2017. Published: The Lion and the Breath: Combining Kalaripayattu and Fitzmaurice Voicework Techniques Towards a New Cross-Cultural Methodology for Actor Training (Journal of Embodied Research).

Professor Cav. Simon Mordant, AO. Enterprise Professor, Centre for Visual Arts, Victorian College of the Arts

The BLAK C.O.R.E program has been made possible through the generous contribution of Professor Cav. Simon Mordant. With a global perspective, Simon is an avid contributor to the arts and shares our vision to reimagine museums and collections. A passionate collector of contemporary art with a long history of benefaction to the arts, in 2007 he was appointed Chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art Foundation which was re-established to raise funds for the $53 million capital campaign for its redevelopment. In 2010 Simon was appointed Chairman of the Board of the MCA Australia which he served on until July 2020 when he became the inaugural International Ambassador for the MCA. In addition to the above, Simon chairs the NSW Visual Arts Board, is Vice Chair of MOMA PS1 in New York, a Trustee of the American Academy in Rome, a member of the International Council of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, a member of the Executive Committee of the Tate International Council, a director of the Garvan Research Foundation, a member of the Advisory Board of Venetian Heritage in Italy, Chair of Lend Lease’s Art Advisory Panel for Barangaroo, a member of The Centre for Independent Studies Board, a member of The Ethics Centre Board, and a Sydney Committee member of Human Rights Watch. He was Australian Commissioner for the 2013 & 2015 Venice Biennale, a director of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation 2012-2017, Deputy President of Takeover Panel 2000-2010 and past board member of Opera Australia, Sydney Theatre Company, Bundanon Trust, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Los Angeles and Wharton Executive Board for Asia. 

In 2012, Simon was awarded an AM being made a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia for Services to the Arts and to the cultural environment of Australia through philanthropic and executive roles, and to the community. In 2020, Simon was knighted in Italy and awarded the Order of the Star of Italy (Cavaliere dell’ Ordine della Stella d’Italia), awarded an AO being made an Officer in the General Division of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the visual arts at a national and international level, to emerging artists, and to philanthropy and made an Enterprise Professor at the University of Melbourne. 


Mordant Family BLAK C.O.R.E. Fellowships

Central to the program are the Mordant Family BLAK C.O.R.E Fellowships; 12 Fellowships over 4 years to support local and international First Nations creatives, cultural and thought leaders. This is a rare opportunity for Fellows to rest and regenerate, whilst having time to collaborate and extend reciprocity through their own agenda of radical energy and enquiry. These Fellowships will seed radical care work and influence within the Museums and Collections and wider University community, supporting connections with grass roots communities, academics, and researchers. The unique Mordant Family Fellowships demonstrate the need for ambitious and urgent work needed in this global space of museum and healing practices. 

Inaugural Fellow Grace Ndiritu 16 June – 14 August 2022

Grace Ndiritu is a British-Kenyan artist whose artworks are concerned with the transformation of our contemporary world. Her work has been featured in The Guardian TIME Magazine, Phaidon: The 21st Century Art Book, BOMB magazine, Art Monthly and Apollo Magazine 40 under 40 list, Elephant MagazineMetropolis M and The Sunday Times Radio show with Mariella Frostrup. Her work is also housed in museum collections such as The British Council, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Modern Art Museum, Warsaw and private collections such as the King Mohammed VI, Morocco and Walther Collection, New York and Germany.

Her experimental art writing and images have been published Bergen Kunsthall, Whitechapel Gallery: Documents of Contemporary Art, The Paris Review, Le Journal Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Animal Shelter Journal Semiotext(e) MIT Press, Metropolis M art magazine and Oxford University Press. Her archive of over forty ‘hand-crafted’ videos; experimental photography, Post-Hippie Pop-Abstractioncollages and shamanic performances have been widely exhibited. Her debut short film Black Beauty has been selected for prestigious film festivals including 72nd Berlinale in the Forum Expanded section (2022) and 32nd FIDMarseille (2021).

Grace Ndiritu is represented by ARCADE Gallery, London & Brussels.


First Nations-led Projects and Initiatives

aabaakwad in Venice, Italy – 22 April to 25 April 2022

BLAK C.O.R.E. supported First Nations artists and curators from Australia to travel to Venice in April to attend aabaakwad, at the 59th Venice Biennale from April in partnership with the exhibition The Sami Pavillion, in the Nordic Pavilion.

aabaakwad (it clears after a storm) is a unique annual Indigenous-led conversation on Indigenous art by those who create, curate and write about it. A gathering that alternates annually between Toronto and international venues, showcasing dynamic dialogue examining themes, materials and experiences in Indigenous art practice globally. Founded in 2018 by Wanda Nanibush (Anishinaabe, Canada), aabaakwad brings together over 70 creatives from all over the world. We are Indigenous-led and artist-centred. 

Collarenebri Central School for NAIDOC – 23 June to 2 July 2022

BLAK C.O.R.E. collaborated with the Collarenebri Central School to create a final performance for NAIDOC 2022. BLAK C.O.R.E. member Budi Miller and Kamilaroi Elder Aunty Ros McGregor facilitated workshops with the school community around themes of healing, self-love and pride, culminating in a final performance for NAIDOC 2023. Mordant Family BLAK C.O.R.E. Fellow Grace Ndiritu accompanied Budi and Aunty Ros to Collarenebri and contribute to the workshops.

“We are committed to closing the achievement gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. We know that we need to learn about, nurture and value the cultural identity of our Aboriginal students to help them be successful learners.”

Aunty Roslyn McGregor is Chairperson Collarenebri Local Aboriginal Land Council and leads Aboriginal Engagement at Collarenebri Central School. She has worked for over fifteen years with students, bringing their cultural knowledge of the sacred carved trees of the Banarway Bora ground into a contemporary context.