First Peoples Focus

Tue 19 March

From outer orbits to inner-city circles, this year’s First Nations-focused program embraces space and looks to the future.

The Blak Infinite

Tony Albert 'Crop Circles in Yogya #5', 2016—2017

Fed Square becomes a constellation of art and stories that share First Peoples futures, connections to the cosmos, and political discourse. Experience large-scale installations, new commissions and conversations by leading First Nations artists and writers. Journey through sovereign political and environmental movements, perceptions of belonging and alienation, and the stories in the stars. Featuring work from Tony Albert, Michael Cook, Kait James, Tarryn Love, Ellen Van Neerven, and Josh Muir. With major installation works by Richard Bell centred in Fed Square and appearing down the road at The State Library. Free entry.

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Richard Bell installations

Embassy by Richard Bell—FREE

A First Nations-led space for forging alternate futures and dialogue in support of Aboriginal rights. Open for free screenings and talks hosted by Bell. Check the chalkboard to see who's speaking. Presented with Fed Square.

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Pay the Rent by Richard Bell—FREE

A running total of what’s owed to the First Nations’ people of this land. Installed up above The State Library's neoclassical columns. Ticking away. Presented with the State Library Victoria.

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Workshops and talks

BEAM ME UP : The Art of Abduction Beading Workshop—FREE

Beam into this workshop where young ones aged over seven can create beaded bracelets, necklaces and adornments. Run byTony Albert and his collaborator ENOKi it’s inspired by their work BEAM ME UP, The Art of Abduction. Presented with Fed Square.

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BEAM ME UP : The Art of Abduction Spaceship Workshop—FREE

In this workshop Run by Tony Albert and ENOKi, kids can create their own wearable spaceships and bring to life the aliens that are visiting Melbourne/Naarm during RISING. Presented with Fed Square.

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Blak Infinite Artist Talks—Free

Hear from the artists—including Tony Albert, ENOKi, Michael Cook, Kait James, Jake Duczynski and Tarryn Love—as they discuss the movements, ideas and stories that underpin the constellation of art at The Blak Infinite. Presented with Fed Square.

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Meet the Artists: Melbourne Art Trams—FREE

Hear from the artists who kept a moving exhibition of First Peoples Melbourne Art Trams rolling through the city. Darcy Knotki, Kait James, Peter Waples-Crowe and Milla Morgan. Presented with RMIT University.

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Big Name, No Blankets presented with ILBIJERRI Theatre Company—$80—$99

A rock ‘n’ roll story celebrating the trailblazing music icons, Warumpi Band, inspired by tales from founding member Sammy Tjapanangka Butcher.

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Four Samoan-Australians who started making drill rap in a studio behind a fridge supply store. Now they’re Australia’s most successful hip-hop act. Here to ignite, against the odds.

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THE RIVERS SING by Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO, Byron J Scullin, Thomas Supple—Free

The large-scale audio artwork laps at the city’s riverbanks. RISING reprises its nightly call to the city.

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ECLIPSE by Cerulean and Stone Motherless Cold—$44—$49

A future-forward drag show that spans the ages—from the Big Bang(er) to the Paleocene. Pick a side and dress to slay.

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GURR ERA OP by Ghenoa Gela—$44—$49

Torres Strait Islander women dance and weave stories of connection and culture, as their homeland is threatened by rising seas and climate catastrophe. Presented with Force Majeure in association with ILLBIJERRI Theatre Company.

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First Peoples Melbourne Art Trams

2023 Melbourne Art Tram by Amina Biggs (Boonwurrung/Erub). Photo: Carmen Zammit.

First Peoples Melbourne Art Trams are almost re-wrapped and ready to move. This year, tribute trams featuring works from trailblazing artists Destiny Deacon and Ellen José, will roll out alongside a fleet of new pieces. Jarra Karalinar Steel (Boon Wurrung/Wemba Wemba) returns to curate the program for the last time. Come June expect to see moving canvases from the following artists:

2024 Artists

Destiny Deacon (Ku Ku/Erub Mer) Arrears Windows

Ellen José (Torres Strait Islander) Reach And Touch—Distance and Time

Thomas Day (Gunditjmara/Yorta Yorta/Wemba Wemba) Yarkeen—Dreams

Kait James (Wadawurrung) Hung Out to Dry

Milla Morgan (Wiradjuri/Yorta Yorta) I Just Wanted to Say Sorry

Iluka Sax-Williams (Taungurung) Kulin Woora Liwik—Kulin Sky Ancestors

Presented in partnership with Public Transport Victoria, Yarra Trams and Creative Victoria.


Invasion (UFO POSSUMS), 2017 by Micheal Cook. Courtesy of Jan Murphy gallery in THIS IS NO FANTASY.

Crop Circles in Yogya #5 by Tony Albert, 2016—2017.

Embassy by Richard Bell. Image courtesy of Milani Gallery and the artist.

Pay the rent by Richard Bell. Image courtesy of the artist.

Alienation, Take me to Your Weaver and Invaders Gameover by Kait James. Courtesy of the artist.

Big Name No Blankets by Andrea James with Anyupa Butcher and Sammy Tjapanangka Butcher. Photo: Brett Boardman.

ONEFOUR. Photo: Tristan Stefan Edouard.

The Rivers Sing by Deborah Cheetham Fraillon AO, Byron J Scullin, Thomas Supple. Photo: courtesy of the artist.

Eclipse by Cerulean and Stone Motherless Cold, Kamarra Bell-Wykes and Carly Sheppard / A Daylight Connection, Willoh Weiland, Miss Ellaneous, 2Joocee. Photo: Gregory Lorenzutti.

GURR ERA OP by Ghenoa Gela. Photo: Ashley de Prazer.

First Peoples Melbourne Art Trams, RISING 2023 by Amina Biggs (boon wurrung/erub). Photo: Carmen Zammit.

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