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Provocative Artworks Bring Attention To Huge Indigenous Prison Population

"The works in this exhibition are prompted not by the spirit of ‘reconciliation’".

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The creators of a new art exhibition about the high rates of Indigenous incarceration are hoping their work shocks people into finding out more about the issue.

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The Most Gaoled Race on Earth exhibition opened over the weekend at the Lock Up Gallery, an old police station turned art space, on the NSW north coast.

A collaboration between acclaimed Aboriginal artist Blak Douglas and non-Indigenous artist Adam Geczy, some of the artworks reimagine the board game Monopoly and the game Hangman, as a way to comment on race relations in Australia.

In one piece the famous Monopoly motif of a police officer with the words 'Go to Jail' has been turned into a young Aboriginal man with the words 'Go To Hell. Manopoly".

Another piece is a large-scale painting of the game hangman featuring a black man hanging in a noose with the word Aboriginal written underneath him.

The exhibition also features several installations, including a room full of coloured nooses hanging from the ceiling. A sombre reminder of the high rates of Aboriginal deaths in custody.

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“The title of this exhibition is not a gratuitous provocation, it is a fact: per capita the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia are the most gaoled race on Earth," Douglas and Geczy said in a joint statement.

Both artists say that the exhibition is purposely 'in your face' and they're unapologetic about their confrontational approach, hoping to ignite debate around the issue.

"The works in this exhibition are prompted not by the spirit of ‘reconciliation’, or of conciliation, or of proselytization. They are prompted by anger".

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Indigenous people make up less than 3% of the entire population, yet make up around 27% of the prison population. In the Northern Territory, a shocking 84% of the prison population is Aboriginal.

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Australia jails its black men at a rate that is five times higher than during apartheid South Africa.

The Most Gaoled Race on Earth is currently on show at the Lock Up Gallery until April 24. For more details visit their website here.

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Allan Clarke is an Indigenous Affairs Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.

Contact Allan Clarke at allan.clarke@buzzfeed.com.

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