Join us on the last Saturday of ACCA’s exhibition Sovereignty when the publication CityCat Project 2006-2016 will be launched by Aboriginal activist and historian Gary Foley. Edited by Rex Butler and published by the Sternberg Press in Berlin, CityCat Project 2006-2016 records the over a decade-long collaboration between American artist Dave Hullfish Bailey and the senior Aboriginal writer and activist Sam Watson. The collaboration is structured around a work called Maiwar Performance, in which the CityCat ferries that ply the Brisbane River (Maiwar) undertake a series of manoeuvres in front of a site of particular significance to the Turrbal and Jagera people, who lived in the lands around Brisbane before British colonisation in the early 19th century. CityCat Project 2006-2016 also includes a detailed timeline by curator David Pestorius that also covers the lives and careers of Bailey and Watson both before and throughout the period of their work together.
Immediately preceding the book launch, Gary Foley and Sam Watson will participate in a Q&A session chaired by curator Paola Balla, where they will reflect upon a range of subjects, including their early work together at the Aboriginal Embassy in 1972 and the significance of pioneering Melbourne Black Power activist Bruce McGuinness.
Professor Gary Foley, PhD (UniMelb), BA Hons (UniMelb), was born in Grafton, northern NSW of Gumbainggir descent. Expelled from school aged 15, Foley went to Sydney as an apprentice draughtsperson. He was then involved in the establishment of the first Aboriginal self-help and survival organisations including Redfern’s Aboriginal Legal Service, Aboriginal Health Service in Melbourne, National Black Theatre. Late in life Foley completed his BA with first class honours in History in 2002. Between 2005 and 2008 he was a lecturer/tutor in the Education Faculty of University of Melbourne. In 2012 he completed at PhD in History at the University of Melbourne for which he won the prestigious Chancellor’s Award for Excellence. He has worked at Victoria University since 2008, where he was appointed Professor of History in 2015.
Sam Watson was born in Brisbane in 1952. He has blood ties to the Birri-Gubba, Mullengarli, Kalkadoon, Jagera and Noonuccal nations. Since the early 1970s, Watson has worked with organisations that deliver front-line assistance to the Aboriginal community in areas of health, housing, employment and legal aid. In January 1972, Watson co-founded the Brisbane chapter of the Black Panther Party Australia and was its Minister for Information. Between February and July 1972, he was an active participant in the Aboriginal Embassy media event in Canberra. Watson is also an accomplished writer and in 1990 Penguin Books published his award winning novel The Kadaitcha Sung. He has also written the short film Black Man Down (1996), and the stage plays The Mack (2007) and Oodgeroo: Bloodline to Country (2009). In 2001 Watson helped found the Socialist Alliance political party and over the following decade was a candidate in both State and Federal elections. Since 2006, Watson has collaborated with the Los Angeles artist Dave Hullfish Bailey on Maiwar Performance, a manifestation of the Dreaming and a recurring event of a broader enterprise known as the CityCat Project.