Flat White

The 2020 Archibald winner and systemic racism

27 September 2020

2:00 PM

27 September 2020

2:00 PM

In a year of ongoing global protests involving Black Lives Matter ™, any artwork addressing racial inequality was always going to be popular. But the fact that Vincent Namatjira has won the 2020 Archibald Art Prize is, ironically, a portrait of the systemic racism currently being enjoyed by—and not against—indigenous Australians.  

It seems that the Art Gallery of NSW have become fully paid-up members of the wokeocracy. They’ve jumped onto the same leftist bandwagon as The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, who introduced their own infamously woke criteria for eligibility for an award just weeks ago.

Yep, that’s right, artistic talent has got nothing to do with it anymore. All that counts are how many boxes on the identity politics spectrum one can tick. As The Sydney Morning Herald’s headline breathlessly exclaimed, “It’s only taken 99 years.” 


But if the overwhelming negative public reactions on the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ Facebook page—as well as even the comments section in the SMH—are anything to go by, then more and more people are seeing how vacuous this approach truly is. Here is just a sample, but there are plenty more there:

When a work is elevated because of the person’s racial background rather than their artistic ability, then that’s racist!.And as such, the winner of this year’s Archibald competition shows just how entrenched systemic racism has truly become. 

Mark Powell is Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.

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