Based on a selection of bark paintings and sculptures collected in the 1960s by Czech-born artist Karel Kupka, the Gularri exhibition will shine a light on how the Yolngu people of Milingimbi Island, Arnhem Land, represent the waterscapes of their land.
Whereas Australia is often seen as a vast desert continent in France, the Gularri exhibition will demonstrate the importance for the Yolngu of representations of water, maritime spaces and the open sea, mangroves and freshwater ecosystems. Organised by the descendants of the artists following a complex consultation process led by the community’s art centre, the selection will illustrate the relational ecology of these fragile environments where both human and non-human activities coexist. Through these paintings and poems composed by more than one hand for the exhibition, the Yolngu people unveil their sacred map associating ancestral beings and places, founding myths and land laws, connections and kinship. An experimental film produced by the team at the Milingimbi Art and Culture Aboriginal Corporation and a series of original audiovisual documents will place the voice of the Yolngu at the heart of the exhibition.
Presented with the support of the AUSTRALIA NOW FRANCE 2021 season and the Labex Les Passés dans le Présent, Investments for the Future, ref. ANR-11-LABX-0026-01, Gularri is the result of an innovative joint curator initiative between the French and Australian partners.