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Juno Gemes

Gemes has spent over thirty years documenting the achievements and struggles of Aboriginal Australians for justice, recognition and respect. Her photographs are characterised by a focus on portraiture rather than narrative, and an acute sense of intimacy with her subjects. Along with Proof, Gemes’s most well known body of work, there are four other major bodies of work in the Juno Gemes archive: Terra Nova, the Literary Life, The Language of Oysters and Personal Work – Landscape and Other Explorations.

“I have eyes that see in a particular way.
My eyes are informed by everything I have experienced, by all that I am.
I saw powerful beauty, strength, resilience, ingenuity, and hope at a time where others mostly saw only despair, their own discomfort and shame.
I saw what had been hidden, kept invisible.
I tried to communicate from within one culture to another.
It was sometimes a lonely place to be.
I had many great teachers who taught me so much along the way.
I understood how important it is never to forget what has been.
For we are also what we have lost.”

Juno Gemes
Hawkesbury River 2003
From Proof: Portraits from the Movement 1978-2003,, Canberra: National Portrait Gallery, 2003.