The two images of Crystal and Ajay are part of a larger series for which Bindi Cole collaborated with a group of transgender women—or as they describe themselves, “Sistagirls”—from the Tiwi Islands. Indigenous communities—like the Fa’afafine of Somoa—are often more willing to accept transgender people than gay people, and while there are few openly gay men in the Tiwi Islands, the Sistagirls have been accepted over time.
Ajay, whose simultaneous strength and vulnerability are beautifully captured by Cole, searches beyond the horizon, perhaps dreaming of a place where and when racism, sexism, and transphobia do not exist. Crystal, who is an aunty figure within the community, has devoted her life to educating the broader community and encouraging younger members to be strong in the face of prejudice.
"I want to make sure that these works respect the local traditions but also allow the Sistagirls to celebrate themselves. There are also those connotations around the tableau photograph—those artificial studio postcards from the Victorian era that were so popular at the time butwere really degrading to Indigenous people. I feel responsible for all those things in my work and so I feel very protective of my Sistagirls." -- Bindi Cole
From the 2020 exhibition Shifting the Lens: Contemporary Indigenous Australian Photography, curated by Jami C. Powell, Curator of Indigenous Art
ANTH 3.01, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Fall 2019
ANTH 3.02, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology, Chelsey Kivland, Fall 2019
Object label for Shifting the Lens: Contemporary Indigenous Australian Photography, Luise and Morton Kaish Gallery, Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth, Hanover, New Hampshire, February 15–June 21, 2020.
Nellie Castan Gallery, South Yarra, Victoria, Australia; sold to Will Owen (1952-2015) and Harvey Wagner (1931-2017), Chapel Hill, North Carolina, July 27, 2010; given to present collection, 2017.
This record is part of an active database that includes information from historic documentation that may not have been recently reviewed. Information may be inaccurate or incomplete. We also acknowledge some language and imagery may be offensive, violent, or discriminatory. These records reflect the institution’s history or the views of artists or scholars, past and present. Our collections research is ongoing.
We welcome questions, feedback, and suggestions for improvement. Please contact us at: Hood.Collections@dartmouth.edu