The Northern Rivers region has long been known as a place of active political dissent, with Australia’s first protests against logging rainforest taking place in Terania Creek, and more recently the anti-CSG protests at Bentley. Given this history, it is fitting that Lismore Regional Gallery has cast its eye to the international protest movement with its latest exhibition of documentation of the Standing Rock protests by Angus Mordant.
Angus Mordant is and Australian-born New York-based photojournalist who recently centred a major body of work on the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline, documenting the Standing Rock Sioux in moments of conflict and solidarity in their ongoing fight against the pipeline.
The Dakota Access Pipeline – a 1,172-mile underground pipeline built to transport crude oil from the Bakken region in North Dakota to an oil tank farm in Patoka, Illinois, became a topic of protest in 2016 due to the environmental and cultural issues that it brings with it, as approximately 30 miles of the pipeline cuts through contested Sioux territory and a leak could have severe environmental impacts.
The seven bands of the Sioux gathered at the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball rivers outside the Standing Rock Indian Reservation and lit the Seven Council Sacred Fire for the first time since the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876, marking the formation of the Oceti Sakowin Camp which, along with several smaller surrounding encampments became the hub of protest actions against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
“I was interested in the unprecedented gathering of Native American tribes – an historic event in its in its own right…” said Mordant. “I watched reports of private security using attack dogs against peaceful protesters while construction workers allegedly desecrated sacred sites. Unsure of the exact situation on the ground and determined to learn more, I booked my first flight and arrived at the Oceti Sakowin Camp.”
Mordant’s photographs show not only the tension and violence that has resulted from these protests, but also the rich culture and moments of celebration among the Native American people as they come together to protect their land.
Angus Mordant is a photojournalist based in New York City. Born and raised in Sydney, he moved to New York in 2013 to study at the International Center of Photography. After graduating in 2014, he spent a year interning for renowned photojournalist Mary-Ellen Mark.
Mordant’s work has featured in a wide range of publications including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review, New York Daily News, The Australian, & The Australian Broadcast Corporation. Angus’ work has also been shown in solo and group exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne and New York.
Angus Mordant: Standing Rock
Lismore Regional Gallery, 11 Rural Street, Lismore
Exhibition: 2 June – 22 July 2018
For more information, visit: www.lismoregallery.org for details.
Image: Angus Mordant, Oceti Sakown Camp, North Dakota, USA – Wednesday, December 7th, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Dominik Mersch Gallery.