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Tuesday, November 19 • 11:51am - 12:06pm
John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new

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John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new
A digital resource space, johnmawurndjul.com—driven and owned by the artist—was developed by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) to support the major retrospective exhibition "John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new." The website is a keeping place and digital platform to share the work, language, and knowledge of renowned Australian artist John Mawurndjul, a Kuninjku master bark painter from Western Arnhem Land.
A 40-minute video, narrated by Mawurndjul, was filmed in Western Arnhem Land and recorded in Kuninjku, with dual Kuninjku and English subtitles. Also, an additional six short videos by subject were produced to support audience engagement and the learning resources. With respect to community cultural protocols, various acknowledgements to country and a warning that the website contains images of those deceased was included.

Listening, Documenting

This project has highlighted the significance of listening and documenting, and placing the artist’s work and voice foremost in every aspect of an exhibition. As John Mawurndjul: I am the old and the new tours nationally until 2020, the website will remain a tool for language learners, particularly in the Maningrida community. Indigenous languages are constantly under threat in Australia, and Kuninjku has only 300 or 400 speakers. The website serves as a guide to the exhibition but is also a tool for the Kuninjku language. During two years of production, two processes occurred simultaneously: a classic design process, operating with rigorous steps, to deliver an exhibition website aligned with the visual identity of the exhibition and built into the MCA website framework; and a video process, which was more organic and responsive to the Maningrida community, the artist and even the season cycle. While filming in Maningrida, we quickly discovered the importance of language and the artist’s desire to be heard and understood in Kuninjku with a minimum of interpretation.

Transmitting Complex Sacred Knowledge

The legacy of colonisation in Australia often manifests in speaking on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people without consultation or consent, a trend that has been subverted by giving the artist’s voice priority in every space within the website. The voice of the artist, particularly the audio-recorded glossary of Kuninjku terms, is crucial to the website as a resource for the artist’s community, as well as addressing the complexity of transmitting complex sacred knowledge and concepts to a general audience.

The following quotes are from John Mawurndjul” Because I have taught other people about my art through my language, that will leave a legacy for them. They will have a better understanding of the things I have done, because it’s been done through my language. What’s different about this show, it’s my language, my words for the first time are appearing in the Kuninjku language. Because this show has my words in my language, that will be a legacy for the future when I am gone.

avatar for Jazz Money

Jazz Money

Digital Producer, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia
Jazz Money is a writer, filmmaker and educator, and a proud member of the Wiradjuri nation (Australian). Jazz joined the MCA digital team in 2018, where she makes film, audio and web based content driven by artists and artworks. Jazz's previous role at the University of Melbourne... Read More →
avatar for Jean-Pierre Chabrol

Jean-Pierre Chabrol

Head of Digital Media, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Jean-Pierre Chabrol is managing and leading the Digital media department at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in Sydney.
http://www.mca.com.au Before few years as a consultant for different Art Gallery in Australia and directing some Video production, he was during 11 years... Read More →

Tuesday November 19, 2019 11:51am - 12:06pm NZDT
Soundings Theatre Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand