Black on White

Yolngu on balanda


Warning to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders: These images may contain portraits of deceased people.

The exhibition “Black on White” will be shown at the State Library of NSW from 6 May 2013 until 22 August 2013.

The project began back in 2008, when Djammarr Djordila and Belinda Mason travelled to remote communities in Arnhem Land NT, at the first anniversary of the Australian Governments Intervention Policy to hear community reactions and ask them to record a visual record of their opinion. The image of Djammarr, on the right won the Australian Human Rights Photographic Award in 2008.

The projects original goal was to enable Balanda (white, Arnhem Land) people to have an insight to the viewpoint of Aboriginal  (Yolngu, Arnhem Land) Australians have on white Australians and their culture. Since then, the project has expanded across Australia,  and added their voices to this exhibition. Each with their own story to tell, and message to give to non- Aboriginal Australians.

The exhibition has been shown in GaleriaZero, Barcelona Spain, Perth Centre of Photography, WA and Albury Library & Museum, NSW.


about the project

“Belinda and I get permission from people to take the photos. They like the whiteboard because it’s more than being in a normal photo. The person with the whiteboard is telling something to the world. Everyone can understand what we're talking about in the picture.”

“for me, I wrote : “ Our law stays the same, it doesn’t change….too much talk not enough action”

– Djammarr Djordila, Maningrida NT

There are many different language groups, so the title of this exhibition is taken from Central Arnhem Land word Yolngu, a noun, which translates to “a person who is Aboriginal”. The name for a white person is “balanda” Other words that are used in different parts of Australia are:

           Anangu on ..... (WDCA)                                     Koori on Gubba (NSW)

                        Murri on Migloo (QLD)                Nunga on .... (SA)   


     Nyungar on Wadjilla (WA)                                                    Palawa on..... (TAS)