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Mirning people

Adelaide, South Australia 1975

Bound / Unbound Sovereign Acts II Simone Ulalka Tur 2015 Place made: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: photographs, pigment inkjet print

Dimensions: 120.0 h x 100.0 w cm approx 129.0 h x 112.0 w x 5.0 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2016
Accession No: NGA 2016.262
  • Purchased 2016

Ali Baker is a member of the provocative performance group The Unbound Collective. The group engages with complex issues of the past and how it bleeds into the present by mining archives and unearthing histories, interviewing relatives and engaging with people who have been 'historically contained and excluded from the cultural elite'. This haunting image by Baker of fellow collective member Simone Ulalka Tur makes clever reference to Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer's famous 1665 painting, Girl with a pearl earring. Recent speculations – including a successful film starring Scarlett Johansen – suggest that the subject of Vermeer's famous painting is a lowly servant who was subject to various levels of abuse by Vermeer, his family and acquaintances. Baker's photograph thus draws on art history and popular culture in its allusion to the historical fact that many of the young Aboriginal women who worked as domestic servants in colonial Australia were subjected to social, economic and sexual exploitation.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra