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Fiona Foley

Fiona Foley is a photographer, painter and installation artist whose work engages with issues of Indigenous identity, history and cultural memory. Her photographs draw our attention to the ways in which the camera is implicated historically in the production of racial stereotypes. In the series Badtjala Woman (1994) and Native Blood (1994), Foley critiques the representation of Aboriginal people in colonialist postcards and the anthropological archive. By placing her own body in front of the camera in her recreation of these archival photographs, Foley reclaims the strength and independence of her ancestors.

Foley engages with issues of Indigenous identity on an international as well as a local level by fostering dialogues with artists and communities in Australia, North and South America, Europe and the Pacific. In the series of photographs made for Wild Times Call (2001), Foley explores how photography became a tool for colonisation in North America. These large sepia photographs reference Edward Curtis’ photographs of Native Americans. As Foley poses with the Seminole people of Montana she highlights the performative and highly constructed character of these archives. Foley’s No Shades of White (2004) involves a very different series of portraits that focus on the issue of racial hatred. The black skin that is visible beneath the black hoods and colourful robes of these members of the HHH (Hedonistic Honky Haters) offers a subversive take on the Ku Klux Klan.