Australian, born 1978
language group: Bidjara
Untitled (Banksia leaf) 2007
C‑type print; edition of 10
Purchased with funds generously provided by Geelong Contemporary, 2018
Courtesy the artist and Michael Reid Sydney + Berlin
Christian Thompson’s series Australian Graffiti—from which this work originates—comprises portraits of the artist wearing headdresses of Australian flora. Thompson’s photography extends the history of portraiture to foreground Indigenous cultural identity, kinship and connections to Country; and personal issues concerning masculinity, sexuality, and the erosion of difference in a globalised world.
Thompson wears costumes bearing symbols and flags, and arranges native flowers and leaves into intricate headbands that partially or fully conceal his eyes from the viewer. Graffiti declares identity and ownership—boldly and sometimes defiantly. In this work Thompson asserts an ancient and ongoing Indigenous presence and belonging in an image that simultaneously proclaims and protects its subject.