Over the past two decades Australian art museums have been striving for greater inclusivity in the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, by adopting strategies such as employing indigenous curators, acknowledging indigenous protocols and perspectives, and foregrounding diverse indigenous art practices. This has not always been the case, however, so how did such practices evolve? This paper examines the Queensland Art Gallery (QAG) exhibition - Mandjad or Balance 1990: Views, Visions, Influences – which sought to investigate shared influences between indigenous and non-indigenous Australian artists. The paper highlights ways in which this influential and 'disruptive' exhibition incorporated collaborative curatorial practices and encompassed multiple views and visions. While the exhibition was significant in its own right, it also created a more lasting impact at the Gallery. Balance's curatorial practices influenced the model of cross-cultural curatorship employed at the first three Asia-Pacific Triennials of Contemporary Art, and led to a greater degree of pluralism in the collection and display of indigenous Australian art at QAG. It will be argued that the exhibition was less about 'balance' but rather an ambitious attempt to present co-existing differences, while issues arising from Balance continue to have relevance today as curators seek to address the notion of inclusivity in the art museum.
Second International Conference on the Inclusive Museum, Brisbane, Australia 8-11 July 2009
International Journal of the Inclusive Museum / Vol. 2, No. 3, pp.21-32