Ethical Buying of Aboriginal Art

Ethics in buying aboriginal art work is very important. Ethics is defined as the discipline dealing with deciding which is considered morally good or bad, and which is right or wrong. Ethical behaviour applied to consumerism makes use of the principles and values that practice honesty, equality, and fairness in all deals made with other people in terms of their rights and dignity. Ethical buying principles are necessary in the purchasing of Aboriginal art.

Most professions have their own codes of ethics which are enforced in varying degrees depending on the regulations of the law and their respective governing institutions.

There is a very important relationship between the artist and the buyer of his art. It can be a direct relationship or through a series, in case a dealer, community centre, gallery, or auction house stands as the middle man. Buyers are able to choose their own ethical principles and are free to inquire about the ethical standards of any of the entities in the relationship series. Collectors and investors, the most common buyers of traditional aboriginal art, are those who are usually inquisitive about the sources of the works and the way the artists are treated.

There are many forms of unethical behaviors shown by buyers, galleries, and dealers alike, including unfair compensation for the artists by buying their work at too low prices. This is considered as exploitation. Forgeries, fraudulent works, and the act of knowingly purchasing such works are considered unethical acts, too.  Works crafted by non-indigenous people proclaimed as done by indigenous artists, providing false authentication or provenance, and other similar acts, are more examples of unethical behaviour.

Protecting the Integrity of Aboriginal People

As buyers and important members of the chain, the consumers play a huge role and responsibility in maintaining ethical behaviour. These ethical principles can help keep the chain strong and linked straight to the original artist. However, there is also the choice to do the unethical thing and completely undermine these people. A whole culture and heritage is represented through these pieces of art, not merely some objects that can be bought off as cheap art.

Direct buying from the artists is often encouraged and increases the chance of getting highly authentic pieces of art. However, the responsibility to maintain a clear conscience and make an equal and fair deal comes with this. It is through such dealings that the integrity of a person is measured.

Pointers in Ensuring the Authenticity of Aboriginal Art

There are a number of questions which you may ask the dealer or gallery regarding the piece of artwork before making the purchase. These questions are mostly geared towards ensuring the work’s authenticity and maintaining a fair trade between the artist and the buyer.

First of all, ask the dealer (and look for proof) about the authenticity of the work. Learn who made the piece. Ask for the necessary documentation to prove this.

Be sure to purchase only art works that are authentic and of high quality. Otherwise, you are becoming part of the chain of artist exploitation.

A Guide to Buying Aboriginal Art
The Importance of Provenance
A Little History

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