Richard Bell

#Pay the Rent


Richard Bell is a respected member of the Indigenous communities, Kamilaroi, Kooma, Jiman, and Gurang Gurang.

Being part of a generation of Aboriginal activists, Bell has remained loyal in his commitment to promoting Aboriginal emancipation and self-determination through politics. His practice is diverse, encompassing various mediums such as painting, video, installation, text, and performance. Through his work, Bell addresses a range of critical issues, including the omission of Aboriginal experiences from Australian history, identity politics, and the intricate colonial complexities that affect Indigenous art production in Australia.

"[Pay the Rent] represents a number calculating how much money the Australian government owes Aboriginal people — and that's just for the rent of the place. Because that is still our country. It always was, always will be Aboriginal land," Bell says.

Affixed atop the Fridericianum, Bell’s digital work Pay the Rent displays a rapidly increasing numerical value: a continual calculation of the debt owed to First Nations people by the Australian Government since Federation in 1901. With no bells, whistles or immediate explanation, the simplicity and directness of Pay the Rent’s bill - glowing red, staggeringly high, incessantly increasing - encapsulates Bell’s mastery at its finest.

'Pay the Rent' was facilitated in our Brisbane workshop under close direction by the artist and funded by Art Makers.

The reason for [Pay the Rent] is to show that it's too expensive to play this colonisation game. Don't do it, because you'll never be able to pay for it. But we have to be smarter than that. We have to look for a solution, because nobody can ever afford to pay the kind of money that they actually owe.

Richard Bell

Image Credit: Courtesy of the artist and Milani Gallery, Meanjin / Brisbane and Documenta

#Project summary


Richard Bell

Artwork Title

Pay the Rent




Documenta Fifteen




Kassel, Germany

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