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‘Divisive’ indigenous art installation near Flinders St station criticised
Source: Herald Sun

A political artwork by indigenous artists that rails against those whose “blood is of a settler” has been labelled “divisive”.

The installation in the City of Melbourne’s Signal arts studio near Flinders St station features a publicly displayed poster saying, “This is a safe blak space. A space for blakfullas. Refugees welcome”.

Another poster declares, “If your blood is of the settler, please respect our request to not enter. This is for us; this is for you.”

A voice heard through a loudspeaker says, “Pay the rent. You have stolen our land and we want it back.”

A Melbourne city council spokesman said the work, Unnaturalised, was being held at Signal as part of the Yirramboi First Nations Arts Festival.

“The exhibition was created by indigenous artists Gabi Briggs and Arika Waulu, who are known as Real Blak Tingz,” he said.

“Signal is a council-owned youth arts space. While we acknowledge that some people may find aspects of this art exhibition challenging, like all good art its purpose is to encourage thought, reflection and discussion.”

The council is core funder of the festival with partners including state and federal government agencies, the British Council, Arts Centre Melbourne, SBS Radio, Fed Square and State Library.

Evan Mulholland, from free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, said that such art work on public property was unnecessarily divisive. “We are all Australians, dividing people by race should never be tolerated in a public space,” he said.

The issue of “safe spaces” for minorities is raging here and overseas in universities.

A racial vilification and freedom of speech case was triggered in 2013 after three Queensland University of Technology students walked into a computer lab, only to be told it was “an indigenous space for Aborig­inal and Torres Strait students”.



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