Archie Moore - Blood Fraction, 2015 | The Commercial Gallery, Sydney

To be considered Aboriginal by white commentators like Andrew Bolt, how much of one’s ancestry must be indigenous? Do you have to be 'full blood' and living in 'the bush’ traditionally, align yourself with the 'flora and fauna' and not live in the city with a full-time job? Being black or blak, as ascertained by urban Aboriginal people, is to have a single drop of Aboriginal blood, what was known in the Southern States of America as the 'One-drop rule'. Like the observation that it doesn’t matter how much milk you add to your tea, it’s still considered tea. It is the position of hyperdescent that Aboriginal people ascribe to as opposed to some white hypodescentists who prefer an assignment to what they think is the inferior or subordinate group. My real self is somewhere in the 70s in my work, maybe it is heptaconkaihenaroon. I first realised what position I was in due to schoolyard racial slurs, I didn’t realise I was 'black' before then or if it was even a desired thing to be. Some of my friends would then console me with “you’re not a real boong”. When I was at the end of my teens I would get told I was black and asked by others, “Why you ashamed to be a Murri?” I would sometimes be questioned by Aboriginal activists if I was black enough due to a noncommittal political stance. I see my work as some kind of sliding scale where I shift up and down depending on where I am at historically, psychologically and geographically, or it could be parallel worlds that I exist in right now and how asocial it is to quantify race at all.

Archie Moore, 2015


Blood Fraction deals with the politics of skin and the words used to classify, quantify and assign meaning based on race. It is in response to various public commentators who question a person’s Aboriginality, authenticity and legitimacy. One drop of Aboriginal blood is all it takes for most Aboriginal people to accept you but if you’re not ‘Full Blood’, then you’re not a ‘real Aborigine’ to others. Displayed as a colour chart or a sliding scale of skin tones it highlights the absurdity of breaking down a human being’s self into words with mathematical prefixes like ‘Octoroon’.

Archie Moore, 2017