Law of the land

public art commission

Law of the Land is a permanent public art commission by leading Aboriginal artist and RMIT alumni Vicki Couzens. This commission has been made possible through the RMIT New Academic Street Project in collaboration with the Ngarara Willim Centre and RMIT Gallery as part of the universities 130th year anniversary celebrations. and aims to, as the title suggests, to embed Indigenous perspectives and collective knowledge’s in public consciousness – engaging meaningfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sovereignties, cultures and laws in aim of providing an enduring spiritual connection to Country for all students. The Law of the Land stands on the traditional land of the Kulin Nation Country in the heart of RMIT’s new precinct at its city campus.

Over the last ten months, I have have worked on The Law of the Land project  as co-curator and co-project manager. Directed by the New Academic Street team, this project has provided me the opportunity to engage with my community – inside and outside of RMIT – and also to highlight the importance of community consultation and engagement. With the aim of the project to provide an invaluable legacy for the university that lives beyond the project, engages meaningfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, knowledges, history and culture, and contributes to the lifeblood of RMIT’s community; I am currently developing an education campaign that will provide opportunities for staff, students, community and the public to engage with the commissioned work.

Project Context:

The New Academic Street (NAS) project has transformed the heart of the RMIT City campus – creating laneways, gardens, new student spaces, better library facilities, and public art opportunities for current students and alumni.

NAS commissioned the Law of the Land public art work as part of the wider project with the aim to provide an invaluable legacy for the university that lives beyond the project, engages meaningfully with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and contributes to the lifeblood of RMIT’s community – reflecting on the past, acknowledging the present, and aspiring to a future Sovereign recognition.

Theme & Objectives:

The Law of the Land aims to encourage all peoples to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander sovereignties, cultures and laws and the possibility of a shared future through a focus on the concept of Sovereignty. As a public art commission that will permanently reside on Wurundjeri land at RMIT’s City campus, the commission will reflect the reality that people, custom and Country are inextricably linked - Indigenous and non-Indigenous.

Through its engagement with these themes, the public artwork embraces change and progress through a wider lens that extends the current understanding of Reconciliation with the aim of creating a shared vision for all through the founding principle of Sovereignty. The project and its accompanying education kit prioritises community engagement and is informed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander protocols and practices in aim of connecting Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in the surrounding RMIT community and embraces the idea of art as a meeting place.