It’s a cold July night and the streets are reflecting light in puddles. The foyer of PACT is warmed by heaters. I know this space well. It’s not known for its comfortable content or seats – but there is something different happening at PACT these days… something that invites you in and asks you gently to do the unthinkable –

to think.

When we arrive we are handed little business sized cards- race cards. Three men – Sonny Dallas Law, Colin Kinchela and Bjorn Stewart enter the space. It’s fun. It’s energetic – it makes me smile and want to be a part of whatever they are doing. Magnetic. Watchable. When the music stops there’s an introduction. Stewart talks to us directly. He’s comfortable talking to us… and we want to listen to him. He tells us about the race card – that we can, when ever viewing indigenous art, we can receive 50% off our criticism. It could be earnest – yes – very earnest -after all as Stewart says with indigenous art we’re getting two for the price of one – art and culture.

There is a warmth, a casual intelligence which knows us, and corrects us and grants us permission to look, and look twice, beyond what we know or assume about aboriginal culture, or aboriginal art – and see the people. See the faces and the hearts and hear the stories and reflections of someone, on a human level.

Advertised as a show about “what it is to be an aboriginal man today” this portrait is complex and astounding. At once a call to arms to peers and younger men to man up, cut out the bad behaviour and reach beyond the negative stereotypes – a call to stand up. Be proud. Be strong -emotionally and mentally strong.

And that is breathtaking.

Then portraits of fathers. Absent or hardworking. Alcoholic or otherwise – an honouring of the past. Past pain, past stories, past traditions.

And it is breathtaking.

And the vignettes are moments of live sculpture, camp kareoke, confessional, stand up comedy, political satire, lyrical sonic pastiche of forgiveness – to culminate in a final moment – three men -emerging out of the rain and appearing before us – honest and utterly present. At that moment these men stopped traffic – we watched the rain fall in stars around them. We watched as they moved towards us. We watched them as they moved away. Silence. Darkness. The feeling of something permeating from me.



Grateful. Thankful and slightly stunned.

It’s NAIDOC week this week. And it remains sad but true that our indigenous people need a week to be recognised, but until the mortality gap is closed, until there is equal for all our people – we white but I urge you to come and celebrate the talent and the courage, the wit and intelligence of these men and do it, not because it’s worthy, and not because they are indigenous, but because they are impressive – and the show will stop your heart and start it again.