An Interview with Bindi Cole
An Interview with Bindi Cole
recorded August 2008
Video by Sophie Boord
Not for download without permission from the artistCopyright
Bindi Cole and Arts Victoria
Bindi Cole discusses the works she created for the Victorian College of the Arts exhibition "A Place Like This", one of 50 projects funded by the Office of Women's Policy as part of the Centenary celebrations for the vote for Women in Victoria.
BINDI COLE: Artist Jirra Lulla Harvey invited myself and another artist called Lorraine Connelly-Northey to create a body of work. We looked at it…at women’s suffrage through Aboriginal eyes and what that meant to Indigenous women and how it affected them. I went away and came up with a number of ideas for images, and then I came back and…spoke with Jirra and Lorraine about those again, and then Lorraine went and made sculptural objects that could then be a part of those images as well.
So what we did is…she made the objects…I used them in the shoots that I did, and then, within the gallery space, both were exhibited, my images and her objects.
One was based around inter-racial…marriage and relationships, and, during the course of kind of looking at that and doing research about that…I discovered that, in fact, you couldn’t really find…well, I couldn’t really find any kind of commercial images of Aboriginal women in wedding dresses. So I thought it would be a kind of a nice twist to do…similar to a bridal shoot I guess, but with a Koorie woman…and Lorraine then created a razor-wire garter, which I just loved because it just...is was very loaded in terms of being married to a white man…how much do you have to leave your culture behind, and how much of that is related to sex and all sorts of kind of interesting, intriguing things that I found very interesting.
Another image was a recreation of an old ethnographic image of a woman holding a baby, and so we had a Koorie baby, but a fair-skinned Koorie baby. I was quite interested in bringing into that theme…that looked at ‘half-castes’ and all of this terminology around classifying indigenous people, because that was another way that you could vote…if you were half-caste and you behaved in a white man’s manner and associated with white people, then you could be considered…not Aboriginal, and you could vote. But if you were half-caste, you would actually be officially classed as half-caste, and if you were, but you then associated more with Aboriginal people than with white people, they would take that classification away and reclassify you as…Aboriginal, and therefore you would have to go back to the missions, therefore not allowing you to vote.
The final image that I created was…looking again at another movement in the 1940s. All the men were off at war and so the women, for the first time, were encouraged to come out of the homes and go to work in the factories and in the fields and keep society running. There was a particular organisation at that time called the Women’s Land Army…and of course women…Aboriginal women did work for the Women’s Land Army, but they weren’t really represented in any way, in fact in every image, it’s always a white woman smiling and herding cows. And so I thought it would be a good idea to kind of reclaim that and stake our part in that history.