Black Velvet II

Audio descriptions: Artworks in the exhibition Fiona Foley: Veiled Paradise.

Black Velvet II - Fiona Foley

Fiona Foley, Black Velvet II, 2002/2021, chillies and charcoal, 20 x 280 x 160cm. Courtesy the artist and Andrew Baker Art Dealer, Brisbane. Photo: Joe Ruckli.

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Fiona Foley, Black Velvet two, 2002/2021.

The first version of this installation sculpture was made in 2002, and it was remade specifically for this exhibition now in 2021.

‘Black velvet’ refers to the late nineteenth-century term used for the prostitution of Aboriginal women by European men. If these women were paid at all, it was too often in the form of opium dust, a highly addictive drug that was used as make-shift currency, with debilitating impacts on Aboriginal communities.

This installation artwork is on the floor and is an oval shape and pointed at both ends. It sits 20 centimetres high and is 2.8 metres long by 1.6 metres wide. The outside is black in colour and made of small chunks of charcoal that rest on a wooden base, they form a thick and even border that is 30 centimetres wide. In the centre it is the same shape as the overall form and red in colour, it is made from dried chillies. The work has a slight slope and is higher in the centre. It is filled with 60 kilograms of charcoal around the edge, and about 5 kilograms of dried chillies.

Fiona often uses this motif of a vagina to talk about and reclaim Aboriginal womanhood.