Melbourne Art Foundation 2022 Commission recipient

This month, we congratulate Yankunytjatjara artist Kaylene Whiskey who has been awarded the Melbourne Art Foundation 2022 Commission for a new single-channel video work that playfully responds to Melbourne Art Fair’s 2022 theme ‘Djeembana/Place’, with her love of Country and deep connection to her Yankunytjatjara heritage at the heart of its creation.

Whiskey is the first, First Nations artist to be awarded with the Melbourne Art Foundation Commission in its 15-year history, as well as the first recipient to be nominated for a moving image work. For the 2022 Commission, Melbourne Art Foundation partnered with ACMI, Australia’s national museum of screen culture.

Artist Kaylene Whiskey. Photograph: Meg Hansen. Courtesy the artist, Iwantja Arts, South Australia and Melbourne Art Foundation, Victoria

Whiskey’s homeland is Indulkana, a remote Indigenous community in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands in South Australia. She is recognised for her dynamic depictions of strong women and heroic female idols like Dolly Parton and Tina Turner painted into remote desert community landscapes, surrounded by native plants and wildlife and doing traditional Anangu activities like hunting, collecting bush tucker and cultivating mingkulpa (native tobacco plant), and which also come to life in Whiskey’s animations.

‘I’m very proud to live here on our Country and to hold on to our culture and our language. I grew up watching my family, my aunties and grandfather, making paintings about our Country, and I am continuing this tradition but using new ways too – dot painting and video. I want my work to show a strong, positive message about life in a remote Indigenous community. I am from the generation that grew up with Coca-Cola and TV as well as Tjukurpa (cultural stories) and bush tucker, so I like to have a bit of fun with combining those two different worlds,’ says Whiskey.

Whiskey’s winning commission will premiere at Melbourne Art Fair, Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, 17 to 20 February 2022.