CONVERSATIONS WITH THE MOB
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are advised that this work does contain images and voices of people who have died.
In 2002, Walkley Award-winning photojournalist Megan Lewis went to live with the Martu people – one of the last Indigenous groups in Australia’s vast Western Desert to come into contact with Europeans. Through stunning photographs and oral stories, CONVERSATIONS WITH THE MOB captures the beauty, humour and friendship of an Aboriginal community at odds with Western culture.
‘I’ve been thinking about these photos you’ve been taking. When I first saw them they made me feel funny inside. I been thinking they no good, she wrong to be taking these photos because they showing Martu inside our houses. Outside people shouldn’t see us like that. After a while I thought about what was upsetting me.
What was upsetting me is that it showing my people inside, and it made me think, am I looking after my old mother properly, am I doing the right thing? Now I see what you’re doing. Your photos are making Martu look at themselves and think, what are we doing? Where are we going and are we doing the right thing? Now I see why you have to do this, because Martu have to look at themselves.‘
Taking a picture is hardly ever a simple act, often the difficulty arises from complex cultural thinking and shyness, other times it simply boils down to the fact the Martu are never switched off to their surroundings. The desert doesn’t suffer from background noise and the release of a camera shutter draws as much attention as a shot from a high powered rifle in the dead of night.
CONVERSATIONS WITH THE MOB, Megan Lewis. UWA Press 2008, page 17.
In addition to Conversations with the Mob, Lewis presents ‘I’m Beautiful’, a digital exhibition of recent photographs taken during playful sessions with Martu youngsters from Warralong Aboriginal Community. With the primary aim of having fun and boosting confidence, the children were presented with a box of dress-up clothes and invited to ‘be yourself’ – whoever that ‘self’ might be.
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