TABLE OF CONTENTS

PRINT December 2020

Brook Andrew’s top ten highlights of 2020

Brook Andrew is an artist of Wiradjuri and Celtic ancestry and was artistic director of “NIRIN,” the Twenty-Second Biennale of Sydney. Based in Melbourne and Oxford, UK, Andrew is an associate professor of fine art at Monash University and an Enterprise Professor in Interdisciplinary PRACTICE at the University of Melbourne.

Lajos Gabor coppersmithing, Bergen Kunsthall, Norway, August 31, 2020. Photo: Thor Brødreskift.

1
“JOAR NANGO: THE FESTIVAL EXHIBITION 2020” (BERGEN KUNSTHALL, NORWAY; CURATED BY AXEL WIEDER AND STEINAR SEKKINGSTAD)

I first encountered Nango’s work last year in an improvised display of Indigenous building traditions in his camper-van home. This exhibition engages with nomadism and architecture and explodes with the energy of Nango’s collaborations with other Sami artists—among them Matti Aikio, Ken Are Bongo, Tanya Busse, Lajos Gabor, Katarina Spiik Skum, Marry Áilonieida Somby, and Anders Sunna. The collected practices of making, both quick and slow, suggest traditions on the move. 

Antonio Pichillá, Nudo (Knot), 2014, oil and handmade textile on canvas, 47 1/4 × 31 1/2 × 3 1/2".

2
ANTONIO PICHILLÁ

During the lockdown, Pablo José Ramírez, curator of First Nations and Indigenous art at Tate Modern, London, posted work by Maya-Tzutuhil artist Antonio Pichillá, who showed this fall in the exhibition “Garden of Six Seasons” at Para Site, Hong Kong, and at the Eleventh Berlin Biennale. His textile-based works emerge from an interest in Mayan ritual, abstraction, and an Indigenous sense of time. As he so beautifully puts it, “I situate myself within this perspective, materializing through ephemeral objects, like a candle that is lit, is consumed and finished.”

Musa N. Nxumalo, Story of O.J, after 4:44 (Doctor Moyo II), 2020, ink-jet print on hemp linen. Installation view, SMAC Gallery, Cape Town.

3
MUSA N. NXUMALO (SMAC GALLERY, CAPE TOWN)

This Johannesburg-based photographer’s work reminds me of the collective spirit of street protests, noisy parties, and heightened discussions about contemporary life. When I first saw his images, I was excited by the way he captures the intimate movement of bodies and cultural and political flux. I love his art—its energy is positive even when it’s confrontational.

Sammy Baloji, Hans Himmelheber, Masked figure and men, DR Congo, Pende region, 1939, scan of a Chalcopyrite from Kipushi mine, and your reflection in the mirror, 2020, UV print on mirror, brass case, 19 5/8 × 27 1/2".

4
SAMMY BALOJI (GALERIE IMANE FARÈS, PARIS)

In “Kasala: The Slaughterhouse of Dreams or the First Human, Bende’s Error”—elements of which were exhibited in “NIRIN”—Baloji plays with the museum as a colonial structure to critically reflect on how people and cultures from the southern Congo have been classified and displayed as the region has been devastated by empire and resource extraction. A tomogram of a power figure, early colonial photographs printed on sculptural mirrors, scarified hunting horns, and a touch-screen interface appear alongside a film of the writer Fiston Mwanza Mujila performing a kasala, a Luba poem that entwines genealogy, mythology, and cosmology to release “missing voices” and awaken repressed histories.

On view through December 18.

Iwantja Arts Young Women’s Film Project, Kungka Kunpu (Strong Women), 2019, digital video, color, sound, 4 minutes.

5
IWANTJA ARTS YOUNG WOMEN’S FILM PROJECT, KUNGKA KUNPU (STRONG WOMEN)

This video made me so happy: I was dancing with my friends! Filmmakers Vicki Cullinan, Kaylene Whiskey, and Leonie Cullinan draw on Western pop culture (with shout-outs to Tina Turner and Dolly Parton) as well as landscapes, language, and powerful-women coolness from the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands community of Indulkana, Australia. “Us younger ones are from the generation that grew up with Coca-Cola and TV as well as Tjukurpa [cultural stories] and bush tucker,” Whiskey says, “so we like to have a bit of fun with combining those two different worlds.”

Hannah Brontë, mi$$-Eupnea, 2020, HD video, color, sound, this section 7 minutes 58 seconds.

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HANNAH BRONTË, MI$$-EUPNEA (BLEED; CAMPBELLTOWN ARTS CENTRE, WESTERN SYDNEY, AND ARTS HOUSE, MELBOURNE)

Weaving together themes of self-sovereignty, Indigenous ritual, and repair, mi$$-Eupnea is a beautiful offering from Wakka Wakka/Yaegl artist Hannah Brontë and her collaborators. The audiovisual work was inspired by a mode of breathing that occurs at rest and within meditative states. Surrounded by ocean, forests, and rivers, the artist’s friends speak about intuition and encourage us to take a pause at moments when being Indigenous or of color is particularly challenging, reminding us that we all need to heal to stay strong.

 The Beach, 2020, still from a TV show on NITV and SBS. Warwick Thornton.

7
WARWICK THORNTON, THE BEACH (NITV, SBS)

Set among some of the most beautiful country in the world, The Beach, which premiered this year on National Indigenous Television (NITV) in Australia, is a mesmerizing multipart documentary about healing and reflection through cooking. Thornton, an Indigenous filmmaker who grew up in Mparntwe (Alice Springs), and who grappled with legacies of colonialism and genocide in Samson and Delilah (2009) and Sweet Country (2017), embarks on a journey of self-discovery on the stunning Dampier Peninsula on Western Australia’s north coast. Thornton’s son Dylan River films him as he fishes and forages for food, prepares an array of mouthwatering dishes, and reflects on pivotal moments from his past.

Maya Newell, In My Blood It Runs, 2019, HD video, color, sound, 84 minutes. Dujuan Hoosan.

8
MAYA NEWELL, IN MY BLOOD IT RUNS

This documentary, told from the perspective and in the words of a ten-year-old Aboriginal healer named Dujuan Hoosan, was shot in Mparntwe, Sandy Bore Homeland, and Borroloola, all in Northern Territory, Australia, over three and a half years. Hoosan’s mother, Megan Turner (credited, along with her son, as a collaborating director), is determined to give him a strong Arrernte education alongside a Western one, and the scrutiny and discipline the family receives from Australia’s schooling, welfare, and police systems expose the state’s profound ignorance of and disregard for Aboriginal kinship and knowledge.

Kapwani Kiwanga, pink-blue, 2017, paint, fluorescent lights. Installation view, Kunsthaus Pasquart, Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, 2020. Photo: Stefan Rohner.

9
KAPWANI KIWANGA (KUNSTHAUS PASQUART, BIEL/BIENNE, SWITZERLAND; CURATED BY STEFANIE GSCHWEND)

Kiwanga’s work reflects on how architecture can control or free the body. Inspired by hospitals, prisons, housing, and other public structures, her sculptures conjure psychological and potentially traumatic associations of entrapment or discipline. Their forms and colors evoke colonial architecture throughout the Americas; some sculptures emit light, a reference to New England’s eighteenth-century “lantern laws,” which required enslaved people to carry candles when unaccompanied by whites after dark.

10
MAYUNKIKI AND HIROSHI IKEDA, “SINUYE: A PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION OF TATTOOS FOR AINU WOMEN” (UPOPOY NATIONAL AINU MUSEUM AND PARK, SHIRAOI, JAPAN)

This collaboration between Ainu performer and researcher Mayunkiki and Japanese photographer Hiroshi Ikeda, also shown in “NIRIN,” remembers sinuye, the traditional tattooing of the lips and hands practiced by Ainu women. The artists visited Ainu elders to collect photographs and conduct interviews. “I ask those few who remember it to draw sinuye on my face as they recall it being done,” Mayunkiki explains. “Through this act I think about Ainu culture, our Ainu history and myself.” The Japanese government banned Ainu tattooing in 1799 and again in 1871, and only last year officially acknowledged the Ainu as an indigenous people of Japan.