Pitcha Makin Fellas: Join the Club
⬤ Art Gallery of Ballarat 14 Nov - 7 Feb 2021
In 2016, Ballarat-based Indigenous artist collective Pitcha Makin Fellas designed a jersey to be worn by Western Bulldogs’ players for Dreamtime at the ‘G— the AFL’s Indigenous round. Shortly after, it came to light that the AFL had used the jersey design in the video game, AFL Revolution, without Pitcha Makin Fellas’ knowledge, from which a bitter court case emerged. This blatant disrespect for Indigenous ownership was just another notch in the belt of the AFL’s longstanding ill-treatment of Indigenous people. Recent comments made by Collingwood Football Club’s now ex-President Eddie McGuire in response to Professor Larissa Behrendt’s Do Better report—which unearthed a long history of systematic racism in the club—were appalling but unsurprising in this respect. McGuire was, after all, the same person who suggested Adam Goodes should play King Kong only days after Goodes was verbally assaulted by a Collingwood fan on-field. Football has long operated as the litmus test for white invader attitudes towards Indigenous people, more often than not with enormously damaging ramifications. And yet football has historically also been a place where many Indigenous people have excelled and found communities. To be sure, most of the artists in Pitcha Makin Fellas follow AFL fastidiously. As such, Join the Club sketched the uneasy relationship that persists between Indigenous people and football.