Michael Riley: Sacrifice (portfolio)
In Sacrifice (portfolio) 1993, Wiradjuri/Kamilaroi artist Michael Riley (1960–2004) mines the reservoir of Christian iconography to proffer an allegory of Indigenous sacrifice under colonisation.
During colonisation, Christian organisations exerted control over Indigenous peoples by establishing reserves and missions. Many Indigenous peoples were forcibly relocated to these missions and forbidden from speaking their language and participating in cultural practices. Having grown on up on the Talbragar Reserve just outside of Dubbo, NSW, Riley witnessed the sacrifices Indigenous peoples had to make to survive and to be Christian themselves.
In this series, images of crosses, fish, lilies, and stigmata, function not only as Christian symbols, but as symbols that narrate such sacrifice. Riley intended not to disparage Christianity as a practice, but to critically examine how it was weaponised.
Michael Riley / Wiradjuri people / Australia 1960–2004 / Sacrifice (portfolio) (detail) 1993 / Purchased 2002 / © Michael Riley
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