Tony Albert

1981 - We Can Be Heroes 2013 pigment print on aluminium and acrylic 55.5 X 135 X 6.5 cm Collection Shepparton Art Museum, acquired with the assistance of the Robert Salzer Foundation, 2013 2013.13

A new body of work by Tony Albert, including We Can Be Heroes, 2013 was exhibited in an exhibition titled `BROTHERS’ in Sydney in 2013. The exhibition was inspired by events that took place in Sydney’s Kings Cross in April 2012, while Albert was artist-in-residence in the neighboring inner-city suburb of Woolloomooloo.

Included in the `BROTHERS’  exhibition catalogue Sally Brand wrote the following description of the series;

A car full of teenage boys had been joyriding and suddenly lost control of the car, injuring a female pedestrian. In an effort to defuse the situation, local police shot and wounded two of the boys, one fourteen year’s old and the other seventeen.

In response to the Kings Cross events, racial tensions flared across the community and rallies were subsequently organized. At one of these protests, Albert saw a group of young Aboriginal men, friends of the boys who had been shot, arrive shirtless with red targets painted on their bare chests. Struck by their vulnerability and strength, Albert envisioned a series of portraits in their honour.

Later in 2012, he had the opportunity to collaborate with a number of young Aboriginal men living at Kirinari Hostel in the south part of Sydney. Albert photographed eighteen defiant, proud, and strong young men with red targets emanating from their chests. He also photographed himself and his studio assistant in the same manner, to make a group of twenty portraits that form the basis for the Brothers series.

The red target remains central, presented as a core truth, a cross for each of these young men to bear. Most significant, however, the target does not determine who they are; for Albert and his Indigenous brothers, the target is a reality but it does not tether them to any one particular identity.

In Albert’s hands, red targets become emblems—ripples in a pond or music booming from a speaker—such that in the face of historical misrecognition and present injustice, this “outer-stars person” takes us into the future with hope for our fellow man.