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Artist questions Indigenous art's future if remote communities are closed


 Contemporary artist Fiona Hall has questioned how Indigenous artists will keep creating works if their remote communities are closed down.



Prime Minister Tony Abbott angered Indigenous leaders with recent comments that government could not keep subsidising "lifestyle choices" people made by being in remote communities.


The West Australian Government, under Premier Colin Barnett, has plans to shut up to 150 of the state's more than 270 remote communities.


Hall said she lived in a remote Aboriginal community for a fortnight as part of her exhibition for this year's Venice Biennale, one of the world's biggest arts events.


She said the work of Aboriginal artists had vital ties with their land.


"These people are the cultural ambassadors for Australia - these Aboriginal artists, visual artists but also performers - so in many, many, many ways Australia is going to be the poorer if these people cannot continue to live in their country," she warned an audience at the Art Gallery of South Australia.


"How can you make work about your land and your country and your stories if you cannot live on your land to experience and maintain these traditions?"


Hall is Australia's official artist for the Biennale, which runs from May until November, and her focus is on themes of conflict, finance and the environment.


"They're in the world around us, they're affecting families, they're affecting our lives with climate change globally," she said.


"Any time you look at any media, whether it's television or newspaper or the radio, you cannot escape this, it's there."


The artist also spoke about her new exhibit at the Adelaide gallery Wrong Way Time.


It is knitted from shredded camouflage fabric from military uniforms.


Photo: David Mariuz


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