Embassy by Richard Bell is inspired by the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, the protest camp set up 50 years ago on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra.
This installation, exhibited on the Art Gallery of South Australia forecourt on North Terrace as part of Tarnanthi, AGSA’s acclaimed celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, features a three-day program of talks and film screenings. These include Broken English and No Tin Shack by Richard Bell and Alessandro Cavadini’s Tent Embassy documentary Ningla A-Na (1972), which will play on a loop in between the programmed talks.
Embassy at AGSA coincides with the world premiere of the highly anticipated You Can Go Now: Richard Bell, directed by award-winning filmmaker Larissa Behrendt AO, as part of the Adelaide Film Festival.
Embassy, which has been presented since 2013 nationwide and around the world, provides a critical platform to challenge preconceived ideas and stereotypes about Aboriginal people, art and culture. Critic Terry Smith has described Embassy as ‘dedicated to promoting Indigenous sovereignty on a worldwide basis’.
The talks at AGSA have been programmed by Richard Bell and Ngarrindjeri/Kaurna artist Dominic Guerrera, with the first session including Bell himself.
An AUSLAN Interpreter will be present on Saturday 22 October and Sunday 23 October.
No Tin Shack (2022) by Richard Bell
Richard Bell’s latest film takes us back to where it started – his intense early experience of colonial injustice as a child in 1950s Queensland. With beautiful cinemaphotography articulating a brutal reality, Bell dramatically re-creates the bulldozing of his family’s corrugated-iron home following a confrontation with callous and indifferent authorities. Intriguingly, No Tin Shack shares its title with one of Bell’s most renowned international works – his provocative 2019 Venice Biennale intervention, in which he sailed a chain-draped replica of the Australian pavilion on a barge through the Venice lagoon.
>Read Richard Bell’s account of his home’s destruction, written for this screening.
Broken English (2011) by Richard Bell
In Broken English, Richard Bell considers what form Aboriginal political empowerment might take, posing the question against the backdrops of a game of chess, an exhibition opening and an Australia Day re-enactment of a British landing on Australia’s shores. As he explores the faultlines between Australia’s Aboriginal peoples and descendants of colonial migrants, he elicits statements of ignorance, stereotypes and embarrassment on one side that contrast with expressions of political, cultural and economic disenchantment on the other.
Ningla A-Na (1972) by Alessandro Cavadini
A hard-hitting look at the establishment of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy outside Parliament House in Canberra in 1972. The creation of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy 50 years ago this year was arguably the single most radical event in the struggle for land rights. Ningla A-Na is the inside story of that tumultuous time. For the anniversary, the film has been restored in this new high-definition print.
Presented by the Art Gallery of South Australia as part of Tarnanthi with Principal Partner BHP and support from the Government of South Australia.
Presented as part of the Adelaide Film Festival.