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Richard Bell’s Embassy a hit at Kochi Biennale

Brisbane-based artist Richard Bell's artwork the Embassy - a symbol of resistance of First Nations people - is garnering much interest

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An installation set up by noted Australian contemporary artist Richard Bell called Embassy— a symbol of resistance of the people of First Nations, is making waves at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, an international exhibition of contemporary art being held in Kochi, Kerala.

The Embassy has been created by putting up a tent outdoors at the Biennale venue in Fort Kochi highlighting the discrimination and exploitation faced by Australia’s aboriginal population even after the colonial period, and to create awareness about the aboriginal people, all over the world.

A descendant of the aboriginal tribe, 70-year-old Richard Bell describes the owner-slave mentality still exists and is very much deep-rooted in certain human minds, as something that should be most despised.

Artist Richard Bell (Source: richardbellart/website)

“Can it be blamed if, to express their strong displeasure, the aboriginals open an embassy in their own land? The embassy has been taken up as a symbol reflecting the pitiful condition of aboriginals at an international level,” says Bell who is a well known name as a contemporary artist and activist in Australia.

The Brisbane-based artist Bell, has envisioned the First Nations Embassy — a tent — as a place for holding exhibitions, video presentations, and discussions to ensure the survival and welfare of aboriginals and to support institutions fighting on their behalf.

Bell’s installation is itself inspired by the first Aboriginal Tent Embassy, pitched on the grounds of Canberra’s Parliament House in 1972, by four young men demanding Aboriginal land rights. The Tent Embassy still stands today a reminder of the audacity and tenacity of the original tent ambassadors and a continuation of their diplomacy in the field of Indigenous politics.

Aboriginal Embassy
Source: IANS
The exterior of the tent exhibits posters depicting the sharp outcry against discrimination and exploitation. One of them reads: “Why is democracy being celebrated when life as an aboriginal is forbidden?”

Embassy has been exhibited at prominent contemporary art expos worldwide. Big canvas paintings made by Richard Bell in response to racism and land conflicts involving aboriginals can also be seen at the venue.

The Kochi Biennale is on until 10 Apr 2023

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