Award winning photographer Bindi Cole Chocka uses her deeply personal practice to delve into tensions within her identity and beliefs. The Melbourne based photographer’s work is known for exploring her Indigenous heritage, devotion to Christianity and experiences of motherhood.
In my work for Bluethumb, I was lucky enough to sit down with the legendary photography to discuss her practice and the messages she aims to convey in her work. The article was written for the Bluethumb blog back in October last year.
Bindi’s creativity spans across many realms of the art world. She’s an artist, curator, photographer and writer. She works across photography, video and installation, and has held multiple solo and group exhibitions. The most notable of these was held at the NGV in Melbourne.
“My first love is definitely photography. When I was young my mum bought me a camera and film, and I would shoot photos of my friends, then come home and sit by myself and develop all the negatives.”
Bindi’s work explores themes of her identity, heritage and religion as they relate to current politics and the media. Religion is a a huge part of her life, so her work often reflects her Christian beliefs.
“I definitely use photography as a way to unearth tensions and discomfort that exist within me… I take those tensions, exercise them and put them on a wall for all to see.”
Putting uncomfortable emotions into her work is a cathartic process for Bindi. By exploring these themes in her work, she is helping herself to understand and accept them.
Each photograph Bindi creates is a carefully planned statement. Bindi explains, “I’m not one of those photographers who carries a camera around and takes photos all the time. I generally think about what I want to say and build a photograph around it.”
Recent work by Bindi has focused on her experience of motherhood and how her family life has shifted after having a child. Indeed, her favourite subject matter to explore is family relationships and experiences. However, while this topic is close to her heart, Bindi loves having the freedom to create whatever she feels like. “I don’t limit myself to anything. I allow myself to explore any option I want.”
Working without limitations is how Bindi has come to utilise so many creative mediums. While she is formally trained in photography, with a Diploma in Applied Photography from NMIT and a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Federation University, she enjoys working in other mediums. In the past she has even created feathered works, video installations and set installations, such as a prison. The lack of rules makes Bindi feel like she “can be anything [she wants]”.
The use of words often plays an integral part of Bindi’s photography. Bindi uses her writing skills to select key phrases that emphasise the message behind her pieces. “Sometimes I use text because it feels like the most powerful way to express what I want to say.”
Using her voice to speak out on her experiences is what Bindi loves most about being an artist. She hopes to inspire her children to use and find their own voices.
Inspiration comes from creatives working in all mediums. Among her chief influences are photographer Sue Ford, who rose to prominence as a pioneer of Australian photography in the 1970s, British artist Tracey Emin who also creates autobiographical work and Bindi’s own mother, whose writing was a raw account of life in the 80s.
Throughout 2018 Bindi has been focusing her energy on her new Youtube channel, Last Year’s Artist. Her videos on this platform are a natural extension of her previous works, where she discusses themes of identity and meme culture. One such video, called Becoming The Thing I Mocked, explores her journey into Christianity.
See more of Bindi Cole Chocka’s fine art photography here.
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