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Brenda talks about her work
Artist's Name: Brenda L. CROFT
  Brenda L. Croft was born in Perth in 1964 and is of the Gurindji people. In 1985 she completed the first year of a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Photography) at Sydney College of Arts. Croft first exhibited her work in the NADOC '86 Exhibition of Aboriginal and Islander Photographers at the Aboriginal Artists Gallery, Sydney in 1986. In 1988 she participated in the touring exhibition Inside Black Australia and Photography: Recent Acquisitions at the Australian National Gallery, Canberra. She undertook the Koori Women's Video Production course at Metro Television, Sydney in 1990 and was employed as the General Manager (formerly Coordinator) of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists' Co-operative, Sydney (a position she held for six years) that same year.

In 1991 Croft's work was included in Aboriginal Women's Exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney and Kudjeris at Boomalli Aboriginal Artists' Co-operative. She participated in My Story My Country at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1992 and exhibited a collaborative work as part of The Boundary Rider: 9th Biennale of Sydney with the African-American artist, Adrian Piper, that same year. This work was later shown at Camerawork Gallery, London. In 1992 Croft, whilst in France with the exhibition Australien Reves (Australian Dreams) at the Palais des Papes, Avignon, France, undertook a working tour of Britain, establishing networks on behalf of Boomalli.

In 1993 Croft participated in Wiyana/Perisferia (Periphery) at The Performance Space, Sydney, held the solo exhibition The Big Deal is Black at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, and undertook a residency at the Banff Centre for the Arts, Alberta, Canada. Croft's solo exhibition Strange Fruit was held at The Performance Space in 1994, and she participated in a number of group exhibitions including Perpetual Motion: Aboriginal Strategies for Rijigging Art and Technology at Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, Adelaide; the touring exhibition True Colours: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Artists Raise the Flag; Sydney Photographed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and Urban Focus: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art from the Urban Areas of Australia at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Croft completed a Master of Art Administration at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales, Sydney in 1995 and was represented in AFRICUS: The Johannesburg Biennale that same year. In 1996 her photographs from Conference Call (1992) were included in Guwanyi: Stories of the Redfern Aboriginal Community at the Museum of Sydney, and she also exhibited in the international touring exhibition Abstracts: New Aboriginalities. Croft was the recipient of the Australia Council Visual Arts and Crafts Fund Greene Street Studio, New York that same year.

From 1996 to1999 Croft has been, and will remain, a member of the Curatorium for the exhibition fluent, Australia's representation at the 47th Venice Biennale. Croft has worked in various capacities with Radio Skid Row and Radio Redfern, was a member of the National Museum of Australia Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Committee, and was a founding member of Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative.

In 1998 Croft undertook a residency at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAAPA/ECU), Perth and exhibited her work, In My Father's House with Destiny Deacon's Postcards from Mummy at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney. She was recently awarded the 1998 Indigenous Arts Fellowship from the NSW Ministry for the Arts, and will hold a joint exhibition with Michael Riley at Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne in November. Croft also publishes widely on the arts, and is a freelance artist, curator, writer and lecturer.

Artist statement � Brenda L. CROFT

I am fair, I am aware that I am not what people are looking for when they want something black, something real, something authentic, something truly Aboriginal, but I am here. I am aware that as I look through magazines they are not of me, for me. The models white and pure, or black and foreign, and/or exotic, not from here not of me. I turn on the television and the advertisements make me feel that I have travelled to some other country, I am not at home. I see reports of our people and we are down again, so far down it is hard to see daylight. When observed, when exposed, we are mere microbes, lucky for some space, alien to white Australians, unknown quantities. Sad, sorry, other, peripheral, not their problem. I travelled overseas and was amazed at how I became the exotic, the foreign, the other. Displacement, the other side. By placing myself behind the camera I am taking control of my self image and images of ourselves. I cannot, do not, take sole responsibility but challenge and attempt to reverse the expected. My mother marrying my father, white dress, black suit, the negative makes me laugh, the story makes me cry. Reverse roles. Look at me/us and do not see through me/us. Acknowledge me/us. I am right beside you.

July 1998

originally published in The Boundary Rider: 9th Biennale of Sydney, exhibition catalogue, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 December to 14 March 1993, p. 192.