Unfinished Business exhibition – honouring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People with disabilities
This exhibition at Melbourne Museum includes stunning three dimensional black and white portraits, film and self-narratives that tell both heartbreaking and heroic stories.
Unfinished Business was launched at the Melbourne Museum as part of 2023 International Day of People with Disability celebrations. It honours the challenges and achievements of 30 people with a disability from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. This is an exhibition of stunning three dimensional black and white portraits, film and self-narratives that tell both heartbreaking and heroic stories.
Presented by Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Melbourne Museum in partnership with the Brotherhood of St. Laurence, Unfinished Business features photography by award-winning human rights social documentarian Belinda Mason Knierim OAM, videography by Dieter Knierim, and installations by Alchemy Orange.
This exhibition was first shown just over ten years ago in September 2013 at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. It was created to coincide with the 24th Session of the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Supported by the First Peoples Disability Network and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the exhibition was displayed at the World Health Organisation Headquarters in Geneva in 2013 and then part of Australia’s Social contribution to the United Nations 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Persons in New York.
Developed in collaboration with proud Latja Latja/Narungga man and BSL Cultural Ambassador Uncle John Baxter, the exhibition consists of 30 backlit photographic portraits created with lenticular printing to achieve a 3D holographic-like effect.
A decade after it was first shown, Unfinished Business has now come to be shown in Melbourne and continues to play an integral role in unveiling the critical issues that affect the participants' lives. Each of their stories is complex and intertwined with Australia’s political and social history, which has resulted in today’s elevated rates of disability in Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities. Importantly, it also tells the stories of triumph and achievement that so many of them have experienced despite these challenges.
Uncle John was born with Spina-Bifida in Robinvale in Victoria’s North-West and brought to the Royal Childrens Hospital in Melbourne; being born Aboriginal, he was not returned to his birth family but fostered out to a non-Aboriginal family. He only got to meet his sister, brother and father in his late teens.
At the launch, as part of 2023 International Day of People with Disability celebrations, Uncle John spoke of the immense pride he had in being associated with artist Belinda Mason Knierim OAM from the earliest conception of these works through to them touring around the world. As a strong advocate and leader for First Nations people with disability in his various roles at BSL, Uncle John has been influential in connecting hundreds of people with this powerful exhibition.
Check out some recent interviews with Uncle John Baxter:
BSL will be organising a series of hosted events in 2024 – watch out for more details in January on our social media and website events page.