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Yalingwa @ ACCA

10 Jul 2018

Yalingwa @ ACCA Image

“A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness”.

The significance of family, community and humour in contemporary Aboriginal life will be celebrated in the inaugural Yalingwa exhibition, A Lightness of Spirit is the Measure of Happiness, which opens on July 7 at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA).

Curated by Hannah Presley, the exhibition will feature 10 new commissions from artists from south-east Australia and beyond, in an exploration of everyday life and experiences of Aboriginal people today.

Country music icons, queer identity, pop-culture and community leadership are referenced, as well as the legacy of ancestors and the importance of coming together to strengthen identity and connection in this new major exhibition – the first in the Yalingwa visual arts initiative.

“I really like the idea of having a show that was celebratory in the space so I approached artists that were doing work that would fit into that idea of the lightness that is reflected in the title,” curator Hannah Presley said.

“Obviously there is a lot of complexity behind that lightness and I think whenever the Aboriginal community is talking about their community, family and history, we peel back those layers and there is a lot of depth to the work.”

“I really like the idea of representing everyday experiences in this space so we’ve got a lot of artists that are looking at a different angle on that. They’re all really personal generous works.”

Hannah told Southbank Local News that each artist would be exhibiting works that built on the narrative of positive reinforcement, while each emphasising differing themes around Aboriginal culture.

Vicki Couzens, a Gunditjmara and Keerray Woorroong artist from the Western District of Victoria, will showcase a giant teapot representing the importance of community. Within it, will be a giant table installation incorporating a soundscape sharing nostalgia for home, family and nice cup of tea!

Then there is Peter Waples-Crowe, a Ngarigo visual and performance-based artist living in Melbourne. Peter has created a bold colourful work incorporating a possum skin cloak, which explores his emerging role as a queer elder in the Aboriginal community.

Member of the Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi nations of south-east Australia, Jonathon Jones will exhibit a large-scale installation, which incorporates kitsch sculptures of budgies within an immersive soundscape.

Hannah said that all the works represented the lightness and humour that continued to play such an important part of community strengthening among Aboriginal communities.

“When you think about the kinds of injustice we in the Aboriginal community as whole have to deal with I think humour has been an important tool for us,” Hannah said.

“The first instance of all of the works is quite positive and I think it’s a really lovely way to talk about the community and get all of those different audiences together in that space.”

A Victorian Government initiative, Yalingwa is a partnership between Creative Victoria, ACCA and TarraWarra Museum of Art, designed to support the development of outstanding contemporary Indigenous art and curatorial practice. It includes three new curatorial positions and three major exhibitions alternating between ACCA and TarraWarra, focused on new commissions by contemporary indigenous artists.

“Yalinga is a Woiwurrung word meaning ‘day’ and ‘light’ and this exhibition signifies a new dawn for first nations art in Victoria and beyond,” Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley said.

“It celebrates the exemplary creative talent and collaborative power of local first nations artists through 10 new projects that together reflect the rich, vibrant and diverse nature of contemporary Aboriginal culture.”

The Yalingwa initiative also includes three generous one-year artist fellowships of $60,000 for senior south east Australian first nations artists who made an important contribution to the development of Indigenous cultural expression.

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