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‘Proper Champ’ explores Indigenous Hip-hop Projects

Photographer Timothy Hillier captures hip-hop workshops in remote communities and town centres

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These photos are taken in many different countries around Australia, from Ngaanyatjarra to Yolngu, Kija, Wangkatjungka, and Kaurareg. I have been working with the company Indigenous Hip Hop Projects for the last four years. We work in remote communities and town centres running hip-hop dance and songwriting projects with youth and elders; using song and dance to build confidence, deliver health messages and foster self-reliance. We are hired from different agencies and communities to come out, have fun with the youth, and be mentors. When we make the video clips, we write, record, film, edit, and screen them within five days.

At Garma Festival last year, we made the clip in just over 48 hours, with little to no sleep. It is brutal, but watching the video clips or seeing the dance performance at the end of the week is a massive reward. You see the development of confidence in those days that we work. These experiences have changed the way I view Australia. There is such a vast culture that is ignored here, and it is the oldest living culture in the world. Mob from Bunbury up to Bamaga. Many language groups, and foods and music and dance.

I now find my topics for making photos are more towards community and people than the superficial world. I find that from spending time in community I have learned to be happy with where I am and what I have. There is no need to for a million dollar thing. You are deadly with what you have right now. What do I see when I look at these photos? I see strong people. I see deadly people. Proud of their families, themselves and their cultures. Living in two worlds: old and new, embracing all things around them.

I see resilience in the face of successive governments that have failed over and over again to understand. I see happy kids, dancing, and singing, and smiling.

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This feature originally appeared in the Versus issue, available here.

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