Land And Body

Opening time:
Duration: 2011.06.05 -- 2011.06.26
Location: 2nd floor exhibition hall of Building No.2, Today Art Museum

Exhibition Preface

In 1989, following a simple instruction that Ngaanyatjarra people wanted to retain their culture and pass it on to their children, Warburton Ranges Community started a collection of paintings by its community members. It did this as a way to maintain and strengthen Western Desert Ngaanyatjarra culture intergenerationally at a time of great social change, to share it elsewhere as part of Australia’s diverse cultural heritage, and to provide a reference point for commercial undertakings and the establishment of an economic base for Ngaanyatjarra artists. In 1990 it formed its representative arts organisation, the Warburton Arts Project, and developed an integrated approach to indigenous arts and culture that is unique in Australia and has been part of community life for twenty years.

After two decades and with over 700 paintings in it Warburton Community, one of the most remote in Australia, now has the largest collection of Aboriginal art in Australia held by Aboriginal people themselves. This collection, now valued at over 6 million dollars, is securely housed in the community and is supported by a comprehensive data base for its heritage values. Its intrinsic value to Ngaanyatjarra people themselves is immeasurable as a cultural resource for future generations.

The Exhibitions
Tu Di - Shen Ti will present a selection of the finest 65 works of the Warburton Acrylic Collection and the production will involve substantial participation of senior Ngaanyatjarra artists, arts management trainees and community members.

The paintings will be presented in an installation that will create a sense of the larger Ngaanyatjarra cultural and social consciousness as a backdrop to the work of individual artists; the walls of the exhibition space will be prepared with the painting of several layers of genealogies and pages of text, and an important and substantial photographic element of approximately 6100 photographs taken by Ngaanyatjarra children at the Wanarn Campus/ Ngaanyatjarra Schools will be added as a seam of specific aesthetic sensibility. Children from the Wanarn School will also visit Beijing for the opening of the exhibition there.

Four Ngaanyatjarra artists and a Ngaanyatjarra trainee curator will attend the first two exhibition openings and participate in key parts of a complex installation as an action/ performance element during the first week of the shows. Ngaanyatjarra artists will annotate the space directly onto the walls and this will be immediately rendered into Chinese next to it. An audio visual installation and a 24 channel digital immersive environmental sound installation will be important parts of the exhibition ambience, and a selection of 20 large format framed photographs of the Ngaanyatjarra lands will be included to create further context. It will be supported and informed by a high quality comprehensive bi-lingual catalogue (Chinese/ English) and a fully translated education kit for Chinese schoolchildren.

Imagine Australia will be one of Australia’s largest-ever international cultural promotions, and the most significant ever to be staged in China. Imagine Australia hopes to enhance friendly relations, promote exchange and further mutual understanding between Australia and China.

The culture of the Ngaanyatjarra Aboriginal people of Australia is complex and rich with imagery, and with its emphasis on communication the Tu Di ~ Shen Ti / Land and Body exhibition will create an exceptional opportunity for goodwill and understanding between China and Australia. It will provide a highly enjoyable, thought provoking and stimulating experience for visitors, together with an effective opportunity for the promotion of Ngaanyatjarra artists, art trainees and community members alike.

Perhaps its most important contribution will be to the life of the Warburton Ranges Community and Ngaanyatjarra people generally, who will see and have a sense of their culture on the world stage. The creation of these perspectives offer opportunities for developing leadership among a new, younger generation of Ngaanyatjarra people in the Western Desert, together with an new sense of their self worth.