Launch video

(click image to play)

 

 

Today, on International Museum Day 2018, we are proud to publicly launch our In Visible Ink campaign.  The campaign is designed to give voice and collective impact to stories of racial and religious inequality, making them visible and harnessing them to create collective impact and meaningful social change.

We have a strong belief in the role and capacity of civic institutions to stand as change agents in the community, to act as a safe space for discourse on difficult issues where we can cultivate open discussion based on shared values, and not the algorithms that increasingly shape the content we consume.

At a time in history when discrimination based on race and religion is on the rise worldwide, we need to find ways to address and mitigate the frequency of high profile, highly publicised race-driven incidents, and to talk about the need for tolerance in dealing with difference.

Not a day goes by that we don’t hear about a case of racial-profiling, of public reaction based on fear and suspicion; and not a day goes by that we don’t hear about ongoing impact of institutional racism on the basic human rights of marginalised people all around the world, or the use of race and religion as tools to polarise, divide and to build artificial borders. There must be more positive ways to deal with and learn from these incidents, to lessen the anger and divisiveness they evoke and to ameliorate their frequency.

The artist Ai Wei Wei recently said that:

“Establishing the understanding that we all belong to one humanity is the most essential step for how we might continue to coexist on this sphere we call Earth. There are many borders to dismantle, but the most important are the ones within our own hearts and minds – these are the borders that are dividing humanity from itself.”

As a Museum our vision is to contribute to a society that values cohesion, and is committed to working towards a community and a system that will one day be free of discrimination and prejudice. We truly believe in the power of creative expression to address difficult issues in an engaging way by creating empathy and inspiring compassion, the preconditions of positive social change.

We hope that In Visible Ink will become a collaborative platform for creative expression that addresses issues of race, identity, belonging and discrimination, where we can amplify and develop the collective impact of histories, and stories that are so often either deliberately erased or simply not seen. We hope our platform can become a place where more people can reclaim the agency to rewrite their own histories and tell their own stories, and to engage with others who are doing the same.

Globally, we see this reclamation of agency as an important counter narrative to that of division and difference.  It is a narrative that is capturing the imagination and empowering the expression of a community of citizens, artists and celebrities, from the artists who re-imagined the black child in the H&M ‘monkey jumper’ as a king, to the communities who used the hashtag #africangangs to tell stories about the positive differences African migrants are making in Australia, and the eleven-year old Naomi Wadler who spoke so eloquently at the post-Parkland massacre March for our Lives rally and said:“I am here to acknowledge the African American girls whose stories do not make the front pages of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news.”

Around the world, institutions buoyed by this growing sentiment are flourishing.  The Legacy Museum:  From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration has just opened in Montgomery, Alabama, on a site where enslaved people were warehoused and tens of thousands of black people were trafficked.  National Geographic called out its own historic treatment of coloured people in its April issue on race.

Traditional institutions like museums and art galleries are increasingly questioning the ownership of content, and the institutional histories that their collections tell.  In America, the Baltimore Museum of Art has caused controversy in the art world for recently announcing the sale of a number of pieces of art to make room for more art by women and people of colour.

Around Australia, new untold narratives of our indigenous, colonial and migrant history are increasingly challenging the dominant discourse.  At the National Gallery of Victoria, two recent exhibitions speak to the need to recognise, reconcile and learn from Australia’s often conflicting colonial and Aboriginal histories. In respect of the collection entitled Colony: Frontier Wars, an Aboriginal descendant of an artist with work in the exhibition said:

“I think one of the things that has started to heal my heart is the fact that we would be able to see this magnificent exhibition of works from many years ago and to present day, and that it was including both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people. Far too often, in the past, we have been forgotten or we have just been left out.”

Importantly within the exhibition, the attribution of a number of objects has been changed from artists “unknown” to “once known”.

We are inspired by this climate of creative activism in Australia and around the world to address the negative impact of historic discrimination and prejudice, but we acknowledge that this is not a zero-sum game.  We should be less focussed on winning and losing, and more on making room for everyone, for all our histories and all our stories on the same stage.

We hope to act as a catalyst, to harness our collective will to make a difference through stories, through art, and through activism, by creating pathways to change; by encouraging safe discourse and creating connections to real change-makers in the community.

Our ambitious journey continues and we hope you will join us as it gains momentum.