An Immersive Exhibition Celebrating First Nations Collectives + Creatives

First Nations communities are built on more than 60,000 years of cultural knowledge, creative practice and kinships.

So, when Monash Museum of Art (MUMA) approached Taungurung artist and curator Kate ten Buuren to curate an exhibition on First Nations arts collectives, she reached out to an impressive line-up of trail-blazing creatives to form a ‘curatorium’ that would work on this concept together.

‘Collective Movements’ brings together works from across the Koorie community, championing the power and history of ‘collaboration’ and ‘collectives’ for First Nations peoples – on their own terms.

Christina Karras

‘Gunyah Manu (Home Camp)’ by this mob. Djab Wurrung stringybark, bamboo, string, sand, quarry rocks and tree stumps. Lead artist: Moorina Bonini. Consultant: Mitch Mahoney. Contributors: Kareen Adam, Karen Adams, Gabi Briggs, Yasbelle Kerkow, Hannah Morphy-Walsh and Jenna Rain Warwick. Photo – Christian Capurro

A look inside the expansive exhibition, ‘Collective Movements’. Photo – Christian Capurro

‘Why Don’t Whitefellas Like Trees?’ by Pitcha Makin Fellas. Synthetic polymer paint on foamboard. Contributors: Trudy Edgeley, Gimuy Walubarra Yidinji. Alison McRae, Dja Dja Wurrung, Gunditjmara and Yorta Yorta. Ted Laxton, Gunditjmara. Photo – Christian Capurro

‘Bush Dreaming’, ‘Story Telling by the Campfire’, and ‘Back to Cummera’ by Laurel Robinson. Watercolour on paper. ‘Gathering Food and Water 2019′ by Amy Briggs. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas. Photo – Christian Capurro

‘yoonggama—to give and receive’ by Koorroyarr Arts. Possum skin, steel, wax thread and New Zealand flax. Photo – Christian Capurro

‘yoonggama—to give and receive’ by Koorroyarr Arts. Possum skin, steel, wax thread and New Zealand flax. Photo – Christian Capurro

A cloak by Possum Skin Cloak Story inside the gallery. Photo – Christian Capurro

‘Dhamala Biganga (Grandfather Possum Cloak)’ (c.2005), by Lee Darroch. ‘Possum Skin Children’s Cloak Number Three (2013)’ by children in workshops with Vicki Couzens, Aunty Esther Kirby and Maree Clarke. ‘Baby Possum Skin Cloak’  (2009–10) by  Treahna Hamm. Photo – Christian Capurro

Visitors will explore works from First Nations creatives across Victoria. Photo – Christian Capurro

‘Our Place 2022′ by Ensemble Dutala. 5-channel video with stereo sound; 20 minutes. Director: Aaron Wyatt. Photo – Christian Capurro

Christina Karras
7th of June 2022

‘Collectivity is kind of hot right now in arts circles, but we’ve been doing it since forever,’ Taungurung artist Kate ten Buuren says of the premise behind ‘Collective Movements’.

‘We’re the oldest living culture on earth and we only got here to this point now because of our reciprocity with one another, with the lands on which we live, and our shared resistance.’

‘Collective Movevments’ seeks to highlight this deep creative and collaborative legacy in a showcase encompassing art, sculptures, and an accompanying publication.

‘To make an exhibition that honours the long legacy of collaborative creative practices here, it was important to work collaboratively,’ Kate adds.

She reached out to Lardil and Yangkaal curator and writer Maya Hodge; Boon Wurrung senior Elder N’Arweet Professor Carolyn Briggs AM PhD; and Bundjalung, Muruwari and Kamilaroi artist and senior academic, Professor Brian Martin to help her curate the exhibition.

The result is a showcase that features works from both contemporary and past groups, with newly commissioned works, existing pieces, and archives from a range of contributors. Visitors to the exhibition will walk an immersive space of dance, music, theatre and visual art.

These collectives include Ensemble Dutala, ILBIJERRI Theatre Company, Kaiela Arts, Koorroyarr, Latje Latje Dance Group Mildura, Pitcha Makin Fellas, the Possum Skin Cloak Story, The Torch, this mob, plus a look back at the 1996 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts festival’, ‘We Iri, We Homeborn’.

‘We often talk about words like ‘curatorium’, ‘curating’, and ‘art’ missing the mark in representing what it is that we do, what we make, and how we tell our stories as Indigenous practitioners,’ Lardil and Yangkaal curator and writer Maya Hodge explains. But their hope is that the show presents a ‘conversation’ that moves beyond western ideas of ‘collectives’ and ‘collaboration’.

‘[The project] developed in conversation with so many people,’ Maya says.

‘We were incredibly blessed to sit down; either in person but mostly over zoom, to yarn with people from our community that we look up to, and who have/are making waves in the arts. We were told so many incredible stories; too many to fit into one exhibition; and many stories that are continuing to grow.’

‘Collective Movements’ is open until 23 July at Monash University Museum of Art (MUMA), Caulfield Campus.

Learn more about the exhibition here.

Monash University Museum of Art
Ground Floor, Building F
Monash University, Caulfield Campus
900 Dandenong Road, Caulfield East

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