The Modrogorje Gallery Affair

Posted by Aboriginal Art Directory | 25.03.10

A Croatian gallery owner in Katoomba has been forced to abandon her home in the face of death threats and vandalism after inciting the rage of the local Aboriginal community.

Vesna Tenodi commissioned art teacher, Benedikt Osvath to carve the 8.5 tonne stone sculpture, Wanjina Watchers in the Whispering Stone,which depicts images of the wanjina, a sacred mythological spirit native to the Kimberley people. It was unveiled March 6 despite the axe thrown through it and has continued to attract the rage of the Darug people.

Tenodi’s gallery ModroGorji is promoting the lump of controversy as a “magic stone, which can heal and enlighten those who approach it with the right attitude and the right motivation.”

However, the local people advise that Tenodi and Osvath are meddling with bad magic. The gallery owner has received death threats with one man telling her “You are going to die. You’ll die soon; you’ll die a terrible, terrible death.” And other community members agreeing that there will be a spiritual reckoning for her disrespectful actions.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Saturday:
The owner of Coo-ee Aboriginal Art Gallery in Bondi, Adrian Newstead, says local Aborigines have every right to be disgusted. ”Only a few Aboriginal artists ever win the right to depict wanjina, and only then after years of initiations and ceremonies. And then this artist rocks up and says, ‘Bugger all that; I’ll just do whatever I like’. “Asked if she had sought permission to use the image, Tenodi says she did not need to. “It was actually the other way around – the spirits asked me to do this. They asked me to revive the tradition which has turned into dead knowledge, and I agreed.”


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