Student behind the Reconciliation Week graphics off to Venice Biennale for a month

19 May 2017

There's an image that people expect to see when you think about Aboriginal art and I really wanted to steer away from that and show that diversity.

Budding art curator Georgia Mokak says the inspiration behind her design to commemorate Reconciliation Week at ANU was blending the topography of the land on which the campus sits with the straight lines of the University's buildings.

Georgia, who is studying the final year of a double degree in Art History and Curatorship/Arts with a Major in Indigenous studies, heads to Venice in June to participate in the 2017 Biennale as one of 14 Indigenous arts workers from across Australia.

While there, she'll support the exhibition of contemporary Australian artist Tracey Moffatt, a first-generation urban-based artist, whose exhibition My Horizon is Australia's feature entry at the Biennale.

Georgia will replace fellow ANU honours Art student Dean Cross who finishes his involvement in Venice at the end of May. Dean was there to witness the Biennale's opening.

Georgia says the design being used on the ANU website reflects the significance of Black Mountain to the Canberra region's Indigenous communities.

"It's a very significant meeting place for ceremonies, right in front of Sullivan's Creek which is another particularly significant site," she says.

"So I was looking at topographical maps of Black Mountain and decided I'd sketch those and take some of the lines of construction and shapes of some of the buildings on campus and interweave them."

Georgia says her unique style of creating a contemporary design challenges the stereotypes around Aboriginal artwork - for example, that they only contain traditional elements such as dots.

"This is something I'm really passionate about in art history. There's an image that people expect to see when you think about Aboriginal art and I really wanted to steer away from that and show that diversity.

"It may not be a traditional looking piece but that's also not my background - I've grown up in the city."

Georgia has previously produced the ANUSA Indigenous Department's logo and says these design projects, together with her recent appointment as freelance writer for the NITV website and heading overseas to the Biennale, all feed into her passion for curatorial work.

"I've never been there in the summer so it's just going to be absolutely insane and just to be exposed to contemporary art from however many other countries that are going to be represented there," she says.

"It's going to be an interesting space to see really contemporary art because it is such an old city. I really like seeing that dynamic."

After she returns from Venice, Georgia says she'll continue towards her goal of working as a curator. .

"Curatorial [work] is increasing, but art critics and art historians are all white fellas talking about black art, and there's still quite a lot of trust issues, so I think there's a lot that gets lost in communication or boundaries," she says.

"And that's the interesting thing about Tracey Moffatt - she refuses to be labelled an Indigenous artist, she's a contemporary Australian artist and that's it."