Final week to see Unfinished Business

The statement ‘without stories there is silence’ powerfully captures the essence of this exhibition.

Unfinished Business brings to focus the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples who are affected by disability through photographs by Belinda Mason and film by Knierim Brothers.

Historically the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Islander peoples, and the voices of people with disability have been misrepresented, silenced or excluded from documentary histories.

The images and words of this exhibition convey the reality of lives affected by the ongoing historical, social and political impacts of colonialism. The stories represented in the exhibition are not sugar coated. They are raw and honest, attesting to the strength, resilience and power of all participants, and all people with experiences of disability.

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Yamatji man, Marlon Noble with his photograph titled ‘Noble Cause’, Unfinished Business exhibition launch, State Library of Western Australia 12 May 2016.

Photography is a creative expression which is capable of commanding the viewer’s attention. Each photograph has power to open the eyes of the audience, conveying personal stories in an autobiographical way. We have seen this in action, where visitors stop, take time to experience and are visibly moved by the images.

Accessibility is a the core of this exhibition. The Open Access Tours app provides access to additional audio and video material.

Unfinished Business closes 3 June 2016. For more information visit the State Library website.

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Unfinished Business

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this exhibition contains images and names of deceased persons.

Without stories there is silence. 
Without stories told, we are voiceless. 
Without our stories heard , we are invisible. 
This is very hard, when the stories are hard to hear,
difficult to see and impossible to imagine.

Unfinished Business
 reveals the visual stories of 30  Indigenous Australian’s with disabilities, by photographer Belinda Mason and film makers Knierim Brothers.

Belinda Mason’s photographs present some of the untold stories, which are part of the social and cultural fabric of Western Australia, and the nation.

“Every story is complex and intertwined with Australia’s political and social history, which has resulted in today’s unacceptably high rates of disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities….Through their involvement in the project each participant draws much-needed attention to critical issues that impact on their lives. Participants of the exhibition live with a wide range of disability experiences – acquired, congenital, sensory, psychological, intellectual, visible and invisible.”-  Belinda Mason

The exhibition includes a number of photographs of individuals from Western Australian regional areas including Mowanjum, Geraldton, and Carnarvon.

One of the West Australian’s featured is June Oscar, a woman of Bunuba descent. June Oscar is the Grandmother of Hudson who has Feotal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

June Oscar

The Matriarch, June Oscar. Photograph by Belinda Mason. 

“I am the Grandmother of Hudson. It was not right that our little children were growing up in this environment who are living their lives with unique and complex needs as a result of alcohol exposure in utero. So in 2007 the women got together and made a strong and final decision that we would apply for alcohol restrictions in our community. We want our people to know that, this is their community, that this community cares about them and that we are prepared to make the hard decisions and stand up”

Accessibility is at the heart of this exhibition. People with sensory, cognitive and learning impairments are able to engage with the exhibition through OpenAcessTours a mobile app available for apple and android devices.

The power of this exhibition lies in its ability to evoke empathy,  as Mason explains,

“We cannot argue when someone says ‘I feel…’ – it is not our right. It is part of our own journey to learn empathy rather than compassion. Our reaction exposes us to to ourselves, and reminds us that we all need the ability to listen when someone lays their soul naked in our path”.

Gary Umbagai

The Hanging Tree, Gary Umbagai. Photograph by Belinda Mason

Unfinished Business is on display at the State Library until 3 June 2016. For more information visit our website.

  • Copies of the book of the same name can be purchased from the State Library Shop
  • Parental guidance is advised for young children visiting the exhibition
  • The State Library is a wheelchair accessible venue