Maryborough, Queensland, Australia born 1964
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: textiles, costumes, Acknowledgement: Purchased 2010
Accession No: NGA 2010.263.1-7
Image rights: © Fiona Foley
Fiona Foley works across the mediums of printmaking, photography, sculpture, film and installation. In part her art is informed by her Badtjala heritage, history and country, which is Thoorgine or K’gari (Fraser Island), the world’s largest sand island, and the adjacent Queensland mainland. References to Aboriginal and settler history are revealed in her work, where aesthetics, culture, the personal and the political are interwoven.
The costumes comprising HHH (Hedonistic Honky Haters) were created in 2004 at the International Studio Curatorial Program in New York—where they were modelled for a photographic series by Foley. The style of the brightly coloured robes and black hoods inverts the symbolism of the American white supremacist movement the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), with their characteristic white pointed hoods and robes. The acronym HHH is Foley’s invention. By using the African-American slang term for the white man, ‘honky’, she deliberately transposes the concept of white-on-black racial vilification espoused by the KKK.
When displayed en masse, as if converging on the viewer, the life-size costumes are challenging and confronting with their clear references to ideas of mob violence, fear and racism. Yet despite the gravity of the subject, the beauty of the printed fabrics—sourced by the artist from African import shops in Harlem—and the intricate details of their construction provide an aesthetically engaging visual impact.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014