More to show than pictures

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Wirriya (Happy) by Michael Jalaru Torres
Camera IconWirriya (Happy) by Michael Jalaru Torres Credit: Pop Up Publicity

A local self-taught photographer is continuing to make his mark in the art world as he gets set to feature in a major photography festival.

Broome-born Michael Jalaru Torres will be among the artists taking part in the Head On Photo Festival in Sydney with a new exhibition at the Cooee Art Gallery entitled Native.

Native is the third exhibition by Torres as part of the festival and the first time the Cooee Art Gallery will feature photography.

The exhibition will explore the recent history of Australia’s indigenous inhabitants after the landmark 1967 referendum that saw Aboriginal people recognised as citizens of Australia.

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In his artist statement, Torres said he wanted to explore what being native is and how a native person sees the world.

“Being native in the past was a negative experience, with a system that was designed to constantly hold down native people and take away or not recognise our rights and values,” he said.

“Being native was viewed as being literally part of the landscape, like livestock that was owned and abused.

“Being native today reflects on the survival and resistance of not only the first peoples on this land but also one of the longest living cultures on the planet.

“Culture is in a revival stage and the values of looking after country are mainstream.

“Native people are at the forefront of protecting the land and the sea and the native animals that share this land.”

Torres, who uses the bush name Jalaru for his work, believes his fine arts and conceptual approach to depicting his community is more empowering for them than a photo-journalistic approach.

His portfolio of work explores the contemporary social and political issues facing indigenous people, with much of his work involving conceptual and innovative portraiture and abstract landscape photography taken on country.

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