As Director of the Power Institute I want to join with my Power colleagues and add to the voices across the University and arts sectors in condemning police brutality against Black people and expressing my abhorrence at the mass imprisonment and racialised violence against Black and First Nations communities that leads to deaths in custody in the United States and Australia. These are the result of unequal distributions of economic power and authority combined with persistent prejudice and pernicious authoritarianism.  We acknowledge the University’s and the Power Institute’s implication in these systemic inequalities and can do more to commit and contribute to deep and enduring change. It is time to act. 


Like us, some of our supporters may also be interested in donating to organisations that need urgent funds, engaging in meaningful actions and looking to learn from leaders in our field, and we have found some collated links here.


But what are we doing at the Power Institute? In a way our first job is to listen and become aware, while accepting that the art world we love and explore has deep links to privileged possession and violent dispossession. The visual arts in particular do offer multiple roads to understanding ongoing trauma and showing empathy with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, but our initiatives must be backed by our foundation’s own structural changes across the speakers we invite, the people we engage as peers and advisors and ways in which we open our platform to more Indigenous voices.  Our commitment to teaching, learning and understanding Indigenous art is still growing within our curriculum and in Power’s programming. We will  redouble our efforts and our resources.


We’ve started by partnering with organisations in promoting, publishing and diffusing new writing and ideas in Indigenous art and are working to make the writings of First Nations artists available and their voices heard. As a foundation, we hope to play a respectful, meaningful and ongoing part in a thoroughgoing transfer of authority, power and resources within intellectual and social communities, and welcome dialogue in that process. Meanwhile my thoughts and those of all my colleagues here are with all those currently suffering violence and injustice and those communities and individuals who continue to suffer from the long-lasting histories of racial injustice. 


It is now more important than ever to listen to and read work by Black and Indigenous artists and scholars and we have more work to do to give them the floor.


Mark Ledbury, Director of the Power Institute


Some readings:

manuel arturo abreu, ‘Against the Supremacy of Thought’ 

Blak Douglas, ‘Insert Token to Play’ in What is Performance Art? Australian Perspectives 

Darby English, To Describe a Life: Notes from the Intersection of Art and Race Terror

Nicole Fleetwood Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Fiona Foley, Courting Blackness: Recalibrating Knowledge in the Sandstone University

Fiona Foley, The art of politics the politics of art: the Place of Indigenous Contemporary Art

Stephen Gilchrist, Everywhen

Stephen Gilchrist, ‘Indigenising Curatorial Practice’

Jonathan Jones, Jonathan Jones: barrangal dyara (skin and bones)

Jacinta Koolmatrie, ‘Destruction of Juukan Gorge: we need to know the history of artefacts, but it is more important to keep them in place’

Kimberley Moulton, ‘I Can Still Hear Them Calling: Echoes Of My Ancestors’ in Sovereign Words: Indigenous Art, Curation and Criticism

Cara Pinchbeck, ‘Taking Memories Back’ in Art from Milingimbi: Taking Memories Back

Jolene Rickard, ‘Unintentional Inclusion and Indigenous Art’

Linda Tuhiwai Smith, Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples