In this series of studio photographs (made in collaboration with photographer Richard Lyons) Damien Shen simultaneously explores a documentation of his Aboriginal identity and the objectification of his culture through ‘vintage-style’ studio portraits.
After talking about past times with Ngarrindjeri Elder Uncle Moogy (Major Sumner), the artists photographed a number of candid ‘behind the scenes’ shots that aim to juxtapose the ‘Cultural Hero’ shot with the continued fight to keep indigenous culture alive within an artificial setting.
This was the first time that Shen had been ‘painted up’ in the Ngarrindjeri way. He said of the experience:
'What we captured was incredibly special. Not only [was] it a special moment in time for myself, it captures a Ngarrindjeri cultural icon of South Australia, Major Sumner, as he shares his time and knowledge with me. I felt empowered through this process of learning and spending time with my Elder.'
Image credit: Courtesy of the artist and MARS Gallery
Acquired in 2015
Adelaide Festival Centre Works of Art Collection