The Art Gallery of South Australia’s annual celebration of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Tarnanthi, will have its first international offering in 2020. Kulata Tjuta – a major exhibition of new works by thirty-four artists from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands will tour to France in October.
Presented in collaboration with APY Art Centre Collective, this exhibition, which features paintings, photographs and an installation of wooden and bronze spears and tools, will occupy an entire floor of the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rennes, capital of the Region of Brittany.
“This celebration of contemporary Aboriginal art presents a rare opportunity for European audiences to experience the creative scope, adaptive genius and artistic dynamism of the present-day culture of Anangu (the name used by Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara people to describe themselves),” said Tarnanthi Artistic Director Nici Cumpston OAM.
“Their vibrant works communicate the Anangu vision of their desert homeland – not as a wilderness but as a wonderland, a landscape rich in food and animated by ancestral creation stories.’
The title Kulata Tjuta (meaning Many Spears) suggests the determination of Anangu artists to defend their culture, land and language in the face of Western influences and pressure for change. It also refers to the Kulata Tjuta Project, a long-running cultural maintenance initiative in which senior Anangu artists and leaders share cultural knowledge and skills with younger generations.
“By celebrating our Tjukurpa (art and culture), we keep it alive, strong and protected for future generations,” said Anangu artist Mick Wikilyiri. “Each of these paintings created by artists across the APY Lands is a celebration of Tjukurpa.”
“Our Tjukurpa lives in our country and inside Anangu, the men and women of the APY Lands, my brothers and sisters. Every painting is a song and a dance, it is also a map that details the artist’s country. Our Tjukurpa is our responsibility and it is also our Power.”
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue that appears in three languages; English, French and Pitjantjatjara. The Breton language from the region will also feature in the exhibition. This exhibition has been created following an agreement between the governments of Brittany and South Australia with support from the City of Rennes.
The exhibition will open on the same day as the annual Tarnanthi celebration, titled Open Hands, at the Art Gallery of South Australia in 2020. Curated by Nici Cumpston OAM, Open Hands is a Tarnanthi exhibition featuring 87 artists and how the creativity of First Nations women artists forms a vital cultural link in sharing knowledge across generations.
“This is a truly South Australian collaboration and a special moment,” said South Australia’s Premier Steven Marshall. “Kulata Tjuta presents works created by South Australian artists, telling traditional and recent stories from South Australia, and made possible through a partnership between the South Australian Government, AGSA and the APY Art Centre Collective.”
The exhibition, Kulata Tjuta (Many Spears) opens at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Rennes, Brittany, France from 16 October 2020. For more information, visit: www.agsa.sa.gov.au Tarnanthi: Open Hands opens at the Art Gallery of South Australia from 16 October 2020 – 31 January 2021. For more information, visit: www.agsa.sa.gov.au for details.
Image: Jacob Tiger, Kamarin Mitakiki, Cameron Young and Junior Mitakiki performing inma, outside Amata Community, APY Lands SA – photo by Rohan Thomson