• Image 1 of 30

This is My Country

Ingetje Tadros | Western Australia, Australia

100-150 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia are part of a sweeping government policy of settlement closure and dissolution of Indigenous Australian communities.
Closing down communities is devastating for the people who live in them. It represents a physical, emotional, spiritual and painful disconnect for Aboriginal people from sacred land. The Kimberley, Western Australia.

This Is My Country looks at people standing on the precipice of life: disenfranchised, neglected and now threatened with displacement. It is a permanent record intended to bring attention to the plight of Aboriginal communities under threat. It will serve as a call to Australian society to support their First People and end the displacement of their communities.

Uncle Roy Wiggan, Billy Stuart Ah Choo, Sandy Isaac, Lorna Kelly Cox as there are too many people to mention, thank you for trusting me, you know who you are.

All the families in the Mullingbar Community

All the families in the 12  Mile Community

Dr. Anne Poelina, Gerry Georgatos, Ken Riddiford

 

When I moved to Australia, I was appalled and deeply affected by the way Aboriginal people were treated. I was disturbed by the negative attitudes and disrespect Australians expressed toward the nation’s First People. So, about four years ago, I decided to have a closer look. I started mingling with Aboriginal people to get to know them and better understand their lives.

At first, I spent time in the little bush camps where they were eating and drinking and carving Boab nuts. I started by taking portraits and giving the people I photographed their picture. They were always received with a big smile. The smiles on their faces were my reward. Over time our relationship grew stronger and I was invited into their daily lives. I photographed hunting, weddings, funerals, community events and intimate family times.

I visited several Aboriginal communities in the Kimberley but focused on the Mallingbarr Community, known also as Kennedy Hill, in Broome, close to where I live. It seemed like a different planet. People were living in abject poverty, in falling down houses, sitting on pristine real estate, in the middle of a wealthy resort town, in one of the richest countries in the world.

When the announcement came that the Premier of Western Australia, Colin Barnett, proposed to close at least 100 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia, many Aboriginal people where appalled and shocked. The proposal was soon followed by actions. In Kennedy Hill five condemned houses were demolished with bulldozers. The local Shire started development that impinged on the community and led some families to leave as their lives were disrupted. Today, only a few families remain.

Aboriginal fear about the closure of communities is not just about a roof over their head. A large sand dune, known as ‘The Hill,’ next to the Mallingbarr community is held by Aboriginals as a sacred place, included on their traditional songline. Its destruction will disrupt this songline and Aboriginal tradition and culture. To Aboriginal people, losing ‘Country’ is losing the connection to everything that ties them and is tied to that ‘Country’: community and culture, language, law and kinship. Aboriginal people belong to their ‘Country’ just like your breath belongs to you. ‘Country’ sustains Aboriginal people. Countrymen and women are the blueprint of their land and carry its stories and culture in their physical embodiment. Taking ‘Country’ away from people is like committing spiritual genocide, for they will be forever lost.

It saddens me when I hear Australians say, again and again, that Aboriginal people “just have to get over it.” To this I say, “What if everything that happened to them had happened to you and your family?” Would you “just get over it?” When different cultures live side by side, people need to sit with one another and learn from each other. Mutual respect for each other’s culture and traditions is the only way forward.

I find Aboriginal people the warmest, kindest and best-humored people I have ever met. I have been welcomed into their lives and they have taught me about their deep family ties, their relationship to the land and their long struggle to regain the dignity and respect they deserve as Australia’s First People.

‘Uncle’ Roy Wiggan, to whom this book is dedicated, once said to me, “You are the messenger. Show them how we live, show them how our lives are!” I hope my photographs will alert the world to the plight of Aboriginal Australians, serve as a catalyst for debate and inspire engagement and social change. I hope This Is My Country will stand as an enduring testament to the struggle for justice of Australia’s First People.

This is My Country | Awards and Honorable Mentions:

Finalist at the Jacob Riis Documentary Award 2017

Winner ANI-PixPalace Award 2016 | Visa Pour L'Image 

Finalist FotoEvidence Book Award 2016 

Winner Walkley Award 2015 (the Australian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize | Feature/Photo Essay)

Winner Best Feature Photographic Essay at the 2015 West Australian Media Awards

Finalist in the United Nations Association of Australia Media Peace Awards 2015

Digital display at The Louvre in Paris 2015

Exhibitions-screenings: 

Wilson Outdoor PhotoFestival, 1 images will be included at the Fourth Edition of 'Eyes on Main Street' photo exhibit, April-July 2017 USA.
Auckland Festival of Photography, Screening, Talk and Photo Book Presentation about This is My Country, Portfolio reviews and participated in a Forum where we dicussed 'Identity'  June 2017
PCP, Perth Centre for Photography, participating in exhibition 'Rightfully Ours, Rightfully Yours' Dec 6- Jan 22
ANI-PixPalace exhibition at Gobelins L'Ecole de L'Image, in Paris, from November 28th to December 18th (Opening December 2th).
The 2016 FotoEvidence Book Award exhibit, October 26th, at Cathédrale saint john the divine, New York 10025LeadAwards exhibition 27th August - October 30, 2016 in the Haus der Fotografie in Hamburg's Deichtorhallen ( „Das Leben der verletzten Seelen“ which was published in Stern/N°16, 2016 in the category „Reportage-Photography of the Year“. ) Part of This is My Country.
Screening of This is My Country at the Angkor PhotoFestival in Cambodia, December 2016Featured exhibition 'This is My Country' at HeadOn PhotoFestival 2016 (at 107 Projects-Sydney) interview at exhibition

Dysturb- 2 images included #Dysturb’s biggest operation of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, Paris 2015

Digital display at The Louvre in Paris, The Exposure Award 2015

New York Photo Festival - The Last Picture Show 2015

Seoul International Photo Festival 2015

Visa Pour l'Image - The best of photojournalism worldwide-Perpignan, France. Screening of Kennedy Hill 2015

Ballarat International Foto Biennale - projections program -Melbourne - Kennedy Hill and Farewell Medo 2015

HeadOn Photo Festival Sydney 2015 - Kennedy Hill 

Ingetje Tadros
P.O. BOX 5431
Broome, 6726
Western Australia
+61417093853
ingetje@ingetjetadros.com
http://www.ingetjetadros.com

Content loading...

Make Comment/View Comments