BLAK C.O.R.E.

BLAK C.O.R.E. collaborated with the Collarenebri Central School to create a final performance for NAIDOC 2022. Photo: Ribbon Gang.

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.


Events

Upcoming


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 Sam Pulford, Program Coordinator for BLAK C.O.R.E. 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, Associate of BLAK C.O.R.E at The University of Melbourne

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. 

Through the support of CoVA and the Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, Fellows are offered a period of residency in the Norma Redpath House and Studios

aqui Thami February – March 2024

aqui is a Thangmi woman of the Kiratimma first peoples of the Himalayas, she uses social exchanges and develops safe spaces to position art as a medium of healing in community. aqui’s interdisciplinary practice ranges across ceremonial interventions, performances, drawings, zine-making, fly posting, and public intervention, brought together by participant involvement; most of her work is self-funded and realised in collaboration. sister library founded by aqui is an evolving art work that engages in the in-depth reflection on the visual and reading culture of our times. It is also the first traveling, community owned and community run feminist library of South Asia. aqui also collaboratively runs Bombay Underground, an artist collective that hosted south asia’s first zine fest, Bombay Zine Fest, and is central to the underground publishing scene, and dharavi art room, a space for children and women in dharavi to explore creatively.

aqui’s artist statement

I came to art to find healing and in my practice i am drawn to the ways art serves as processes of intercultural mediation. i work with experiences of marginalisation and resilience, my own and the people i work in collaboration with. With an ethic of social engagement and inviting viewers to inhabit and activate my works i explore and find healing in community DIY (Do It Yourself), DIT (Do It Together), and sometimes DDI (Don’t Do It) are the principles as well as primary mediums of my practice. They provide for merging of my life and my art offering an active engagement in both the public and the personal.
Centered around the culture of self-publishing and guerrilla poster, i believe in creating art that is grounded in the act of ‘doing’ and addresses political/social issues.

The versatility of the language of the mediums i work with also allows me to bring all the layers of my experiences together. Colonialism, plantation slavery, poverty, armed violence, cultural genocide, the list goes on. It is through confronting these complexities of my identity i have been able to find healing and peace through vulnerability.

my artistic work is not bound only by the exhibition-making practices. i prioritise, in my work, the opportunity to engage and collaborate with peoples whose voices have historically and ongoing been marginalised, silenced, forgotten, erased etc. The experiences i have had to travel outside of my immediate surroundings have given me an opportunity to share and work with artists and makers that are grounded within different philosophies. This has been in order to net the distances between us, and work in solidarities across our contexts to envision structural change together. For me, art making is about change making, about imagining a different and possible world.

2023 Fellow Grace Dlabik June – September 2023

Grace Dlabik is a multidisciplinary artist based in Naarm (Melbourne), working across sculpture, curation, creative direction, community building and engagement. She is Austrian/Hungarian and a proud Papua New Guinean woman from Lavaipia clan of Lese Oalai, and Motuan clan Botai of Hanuabada. Dlabik’s practice sits at the nexus of contemporary art and traditional cultural practice; informed by the richness of cross-cultural discourse and her roles as Mama, carer and aunty, which are all foundational to her core.

Her work is deeply informed by her Melanesian heritage and the inherent knowledge systems passed down to her, exploring avenues for continuing this ancestral knowledge and practice within the contemporary landscape. Across all modes of practice, she maintains the intention and conviction of building ecosystems where community care and culture are intrinsically woven and connected.

Over her 25 year career, she has remained a highly-sought after visionary trailblazer and strategist specifically in future thinking and community building. Grace is the founder and creative director of BE. and BE. ONE. an international collective dedicated to forging pathways for underrepresented creatives, with a focus on cultivating communities in nurturing and collaborative spaces. As part of The Sydney Biennale 2020, NIRIN, Grace presented HAIVETA; a major project and activation, refurbishing a Sydney Ferry as a moving art reclamation piece of Pasifika women’s heritage, identity and community.

Situated on Wurundjeri Country of the Kulin Nation, Grace is now channelling her decades of creative output into a transformative and personal art practice, creating works in intuitive, embodied response to the materials of clay, limestone and bronze. She creates and debuts these works in ‘art haus’; her home, studio and gallery. She also invites community to utilise the offerings of this space; building legacies in her true style of establishing deep-rooted ecosystems on a framework of community connection.

BE. COLLECTIVE

During her fellowship with BLAK C.O.R.E. Grace Dlabik will lead a special project with BE. Collective called karu kin, that connects indigenous women and non-binary folk through clay making using memory, embodiment, nurture, nourishment and connection. 

BE. is a creative collective dedicated to establishing new pathways of connection through experiences, conversations and collaborations. With the intention to shape an ever-evolving creative ecosystem that represents all types of communities and expressions.

Image from left to right: Kait Waup, Grace Dlabik (COSMO DOG), Kara Kupe, Aminata Diallo, Leilani Turner, Tavao Fa’avae-Eli, Leilani Fuimaono. Photo by Dan Elborne

Get to know the participants:

Kaiit Waup (She/He/They) – Kaiit is a 25 year old Papua New Guinean born & First Nations artist, growing up and creatively expressing on Wurundjeri country in Naarm.
Kaiit is well known for her main art practise, music! But that doesn’t bound her from expressing freely in other formats, working with different tools and playing with new materials.
From painting, to jewellery, digital drawings and more clay work to follow, Kaiit is also a professional makeup artist, something she’s studied and been practising years before winning her ARIA award.

Aminata Diallo (pronoun is my name) – Aminata enjoys teaching yoga as ritual practice, loves dreaming of new cake creations and brewing potions. Aminata is Bamanan, Yoruba and Peulh. A double air sign, who you’ll often find daydreaming and sharing secrets with plant friends.

Leilani Turner (they/she) – Te Hikutu/Pakeha. Takatapui. Living in Naarm/Melbourne and working across multiple platforms of making and activism including Ceramics, Community action, Allyship, Fermentation, Photography, unpacking the constant assault that is colonisation and a keen interestin all things deeply process driven. Deepening their connections to culture, The practice of care, learning through walking and listening, finding new ways to embody grief, cooking, Collective making/firing processes, how to retain your ethical and moral compass in the shitstorm that is capitalism. Surfing. Queer and Indigenous yes please.

Leilani fuimaono is a samoan-australian multidisciplinary artist based in Naarm (melbourne). Leilani works primarily in photography, film and sculpture. their work often explores themes of grief, belonging/not belonging, chronic illness & disability, and deconstructing notions of identity and community. Leilani has exhibited photographic and sculptural work at FCAC, Wyndham Art Gallery and is the current recipient of a Creative Victoria arts grant for a photography project collaborating with Black, Indigenous and Pasifika people living with chronic illness and disability. Leilani will be showcasing work for PHOTO 2024 at The Substation in Newport. Leilani’s interest in working with clay is rooted in connecting to the traditional use of pottery dating back several thousands of years across the Pacific Islands.

Kara Kupe Ngāi Tahu/ Taranaki – Kara is a Māori multi disciplinary creative based in Naarm. Kara is most known for her sustainable brand BARE that she founded in 2018, designing truly ethical sustainable and inclusive clothing that adheres to the principals of Kaitiakitanga. Through BARE, Kara was working towards creating spaces for POC women, Trans and Non-Binary people to feel represented both through the designs and the creative process. Exploring a practise with ceramics has been a beautiful addition to designing. The way we extract
from the Earth and put back.

Tavao Fa’avae-Eli – Tavao is an Aoterora/New Zealand-born multidisciplinary artist/designer of proud Samoan heritage. Her creative practice honours bloodlines and celebrates Samoan & Pasifika identity, language and lifestyle through contemporary art, illustration and product design at her online space, koko & ki.

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

Upcoming

Order BLAK C.O.R.E. fellowship alumni Grace Ndiritu’s monograph, Healing The Museum.

We are thrilled to announce BLAK C.O.R.E. fellowship alumni Grace Ndiritu has released a mid-career monograph, Healing The Museum, published by Motto Books and coinciding with her exhibition at S.M.A.K. in Ghent.  

Grace devoted a substantial portion of her BLAK C.O.R.E. fellowship to the publication, which offers an extensive overview of Grace’s diverse artistic practice over the past two decades. Additionally, the monograph includes conversations with Director of Reimagining Museum & Collections at the University of Melbourne, Professor Brook Andrews.  

We highly recommend checking out her latest publication and exploring the power of radical energy in healing and systemic change. 

BLAK C.O.R.E (Care of Radical Energy), an initiative of the Department of Museums and Collections at the University of Melbourne.  

Order link: http://www.mottodistribution.com/shop/healing-the-museum-grace-ndiritu-motto-books-9782940672448.html 

Past

Change and Collaboration with Tina Campt and Françoise Vergès – 7 December 2022

Join Tina Campt and Françoise Vergès – writers at the forefront of black feminist theory and antiracist action – for a conversation about listening and translating spaces of joy, hope and connection, presented by BLAK C.O.R.E.

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.