Other Horizons: A profound artistic exploration of identity and belonging by three eminent women of colour

FAC-Other-Horizons-Jasmine-Togo-Brisby-Passage-2022A cinematic meditation on belonging in contemporary Australia, from enduring First Nations attachments to Country, to those borne of the colonial adventure or more recent diaspora, Other Horizons brings together three independent projects by nationally renowned artists Atong Atem, Hayley Millar Baker and Jasmine Togo-Brisby.

Opening on 3 February as part of Perth Festival, Other Horizons presents a richly layered collection of works offering nuance to discussions around sovereignty, migration and identity – from South Sea Islander artist Jasmine Togo-Brisby’s ambitious new installation representing a slave ship to Atong Atem’s opulent portraits of South Sudanese diaspora, and Gunditjmara and Djabwurrung artist Hayley Millar Baker’s filmic work exploring First Nations spirituality.

Commenting on the exhibition, which ties in with the Festival’s theme of Djinda (Stars), Fremantle Arts Centre Director Anna Reece said, “Humanity has long gazed up to the stars to gain a deeper understanding of ourselves,” she said.

“Exploring the shared skies, seas and stories that connect all Australians, Other Horizons is a powerful and poetic exhibition that speaks to a universal longing for home and the ways we carry home and culture within us.”

“We are honoured to have three of Australia’s most exciting contemporary artists exhibiting at Fremantle Arts Centre for the first time and as part of Perth Festival, with a number of new works among a bold showcase of sculpture, installation, photography and film.”

“Through his exquisite curation Glenn Iseger-Pilkington brings to the surface narratives and ideas which are often rendered invisible in our national consciousness,” said Reece .

Marking her Western Australian debut, South Sudanese artist Atong Atem is presenting Banksia – a solo exhibition revealing the complex experiences of African diaspora in Australia, from those who travelled, with the first fleet, to more recent migrations, such as those of the artist’s family.

Originally commissioned by Rising Festival (Melbourne, 2021), the exhibition features the eponymous Banksia, an opulent filmic work which reflects on relationships to culture, exploring lesser-known history of Australia’s first African migrants as an entry point to a broader discussion around how migrant communities forge new belongings, while always carrying home, culture and kin within.

Alongside Banksia, Atem is also showing a series of photographs, drawn from recent bodies of work, which explore the migrant experience from a non-Eurocentric lens and the roles that photographs play in maintaining connection to home and community from faraway places.

Abyss – a solo exhibition of recent works by Australian South Sea Islander artist Jasmine Togo-Brisby, explores South Sea Islander identity and history and interrogates plantation colonisation and slavery within the Australian and Pacific context.

Alongside a significant body of existing works including sculpture, photographic and filmic works, Togo-Brisby will presents an ambitious new commission, As Above, So Below, taking over the art centre’s main gallery.

Comprised of over 280 plaster-cast Vanuatuan Tamtam drums, which are said to bring forth the voices of ancestors when struck, the work references the painful history of blackbirding – the practice of kidnapping Pacific Islanders for coerced or forced labour on sugar and cotton plantations in Australia – while also highlighting the formation of new cultures and identities in the bellies of slave ships.

Nyctinasty – a recent filmic work by Gunditjmara and Djabwurrung artist Hayley Millar Baker, speaks to spaces between the physical, emotional and spiritual realms, the in-between spaces that First Nations people occupy simultaneously.

In the Western Australian premiere of this filmic work, originally commissioned for Ceremony: The 4th National Indigenous Art Triennial (National Gallery of Australia, 2022), Millar-Baker centres female strength and power, employing horror film tropes and challenging notions of female psychosis through purposeful revealing of a strong, open and resilient protagonist, grounded in her own magic and ancestral connection, played by Millar Baker herself.

A series of public programs and events will accompany the exhibition, including Artists in Conversation: Hayley Millar Baker and Jasmine Togo-Brisby, Curator Tours with Glenn Iseger-Pilkington on 25 February, 9 March and 8 April, and a Tactile Tour for people with disabilities on 16 March.

Designed especially for children and families, Djinda Waangkiny – The Stars Speak is a special engagement zone running for the duration of the exhibition where visitors can make their own constellations, write a wish, a dream or a memory, and learn more about the great expanse above us and the many different ways we connect to it.

Other Horizons
Fremantle Arts Centre, 1 Finnerty Street, Fremantle
Exhibition: 4 February – 23 April 2023
Free entry

Fore more information, visit: www.fac.org.au for details.

Image: Jasmine Togo-Brisby, Passage (detail) 2022, crows wings, stained wood, crows feathers, plexiglass and brass, 174 x 102 x 32cm – photo by Jim Cullen