Last Friday we opened an exhibition curated by Gretta Louw, and featuring Yama, an installation she has made in collaboration with Neil Jupurrurla Cook, the Artistic Director of the Warnayaka Art Centre, along with other artists and members of the Warlpiri people of Lajamanu, in Central Australia.
Networking the Unseen is the first exhibition of its kind to focus on the intersection of indigenous cultures and zeitgeist digital practices in contemporary art. While digital networks manifest physically as tonnes of cabling, and electrical or electronic devices, the social and cultural impacts of the networks remain somehow invisible, eroding clearly felt boundaries of geography, place, culture and language.
With the Warnayaka Art Centre, over 4 or 5 years Gretta has formed an extraordinary artistic bridge. The Yama installation is delicious, respectful, bold and provocative, in the face of social, political and environmental stress, and an exchange fraught with potential ethical and etiquett-ical bear-traps.
The exhibition also features work by 5 other Australian artists of diverse heritages: Lily Hibberd, Brook Andrew, Curtis Taylor, Jenny Fraser, Sharon Nampijinpa Anderson.
On Saturday Gretta led a tour of the exhibition. Then Warlpiri educator Steve Jampijimpa Patrick talked about the work in the context of the five pillars of Warlpiri culture. You can watch the short video that he showed here.
The discussion of “so called technology” pursued questions of: cultural continuity, churn and loss; in contrast with stories said to pre-date humans; medium-message relations (McLuhan-stylee); the opportunities and threats of openness and sharing in amongst the global flows of capital in the network age.
I noticed as Jampijimpa drew in the sand, how his drawing resonated with the network diagrams that have informed and shaped our work at Furtherfield for the last 20 years, our understanding of the importance of connectedness and especially our DIWO campaign.
I cannot properly convey the full impact that these meetings and events are having on me and the other people who have attended. It is unfolding slowly, in unexpected ways. Yama, is a Warlpiri word translates as ‘reflection’- sky to land, inward to outward, shadow falling from object across another object. I will write more with more reflections as they arise and as I talk to others.
I urge you to see the exhibition if you can, which is open every weekend until August 14th.