The Blak Infinite


Richard Bell

  • Art Installation
  • Film
  • Talk
  • Free
Wheelchair AccessibleWheelchair Access
A tent sits within a large gallery space, teeming with visitors. A sign above the tent reads: "Aboriginal Embassy"

A free First Nations-led space for forging alternate futures and dialogue in support of Aboriginal rights.

In January 1972 four First Nations men—Michael Anderson, Billie Craigie, Bert Williams and Tony Coorey—set themselves up under a beach umbrella outside Federal Parliament to protest against Australian government policies oppressing First Peoples and to demand land rights. They declared their spot the Aboriginal Embassy. Within months they were joined by thousands of protesters, and Gough Whitlam was visiting to discuss their five-point plan.

Nearly 40 years later artist and activist Richard Bell, a Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman and Gurang Gurang man, created his work Embassy, a canvas tent that encourages rigorous discussion and First Nations lead political discourse, surrounded by painted protest signs reminiscent of the original. It was a tribute and continuance of the first Aboriginal Embassy and its groundbreaking moment in Australian political history.

Like the original, Bell’s Embassy is a space for reflecting the continued struggle for Aboriginal rights and self-determining space in Australia. It’s travelled the world—most recently to London’s Tate Modern Art Museum, installed in the infamous ‘Turbine Hall’, and to Documenta Fifteen in Kassel Germany—addressing local differences in race and politics through talks and screenings.

Now it’s back in Naarm for Blak Infinite in Fed Square. It’s free and open for screenings, with talks with activists, writers and artists each Saturday of the festival. Together guests and audiences will explore questions of social justice, land rights, environment, sovereignty, and coalition-building.

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy is many things. To most Aboriginal people it is a symbol of resistance to the colonial power structure that still oppresses us.
— Richard Bell