Celebrations of Indigenous Australian art and culture are continuing at Dartmouth College throughout the run of the Crossing Cultures exhibition, and today I’m delighted to share with you another video of one of the events. As part of the Faculty Chalk Talk lecture series, the Hood Museum’s Curator of Indigenous Australian Art Stephen Gilchrist spoke on October 27, 2012 (Homecoming weekend at the College) on “Indigenous Ways of Knowing: an introduction to Crossing Cultures.”
Stephen’s illustrated lecture focuses on the variety of Indigenous art-making styles represented in the exhibition and offers insights into the history of contemporary practice, the cultural content of the paintings, and the varieties of ways in which artistic practices cross cultures within Australia.
Stephen has an encyclopedic knowledge; I’ve heard it said that he has never forgotten anything. He certainly puts a great deal of that knowledge on display in this talk. Moreover, he combines that knowledge with a keen critical insight into each of the works he discusses. He is not simply retelling stories that have been told many times before, he is synthesizing his knowledge to produce new observations about the works he examines, whether Kay Lindjuwanga’s painting of a fish trap or Darren Siwes’s self-portrait at a South Australian crossroad or Angelina Pwerle’s meditation on the propagation of bush plums in the desert.
And there will be more to celebrate in 2013. On February 20, the Black Arm Band is coming to the Hopkins Center for the Arts (located literally next door to the Hood Museum of Art), where it will perform the US premier of their latest production, dirtsong. Described as “a powerful musical journey through Australia’s cultural heartland inspired by the words of Alexis Wright, … the performance features unforgettable songs performed in 11 different Aboriginal languages from some of the most extraordinary performers in the land.” As I wrote a few weeks back, I was blown away by the film of the Band’s first production, Murundak; dirtsong promises to be equally moving. The songs are more plaintive, richer in orchestration, darker in timbre. It ought to be a knockout performance. I’ve already bought my tickets!
Here’s a performance featuring Emma Donovan, Lou Bennett, and Shellie Morris of two of the tunes from dirtsong, “Yarian Mi Tji” and the eponymous “dirtsong,” captured at the 2010 Four Winds Festival in Bermagui, NSW.