TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art

“TARNANTHI has shed light on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and culture in a way that we have never seen before.” ­– Nick Mitzevich

Building on the popular and critical success of the 2015 Festival, TARNANTHI returns to Adelaide from 13 October 2017 to 28 January 2018, presenting the art of Australia’s rich and diverse Indigenous cultures on an unprecedented scale.

The city-wide festival showcases over 1,000 artists at exhibitions at the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) and more than 20 partner venues, together with the TARNANTHI Art Fair at Tandanya, National Aboriginal Cultural Institute from 13 to 15 October featuring over 40 art centres and individual artists from across Australia.

2015 TARNANTHI Art Fair, Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute. Photograph: John Montesi

This year’s highlights include; Reko Rennie’s site-specific work, OA_CAMO, covers the wall in gallery 17 at the AGSA. The work is an extension of Rennie’s ‘Visible Invisible’ series, which inverts the idea of camouflage, designs conventionally used to render the visible invisible. Rennie’s use of camouflage amplifies, rather than conceals, his identity and stakes his claim to a luminous and commanding form of cultural visibility. TARNANTHI is also screening Rennie’s video work OA_RR which recently premiered at the Venice Biennale. It will be seen in Australia for the first time at TARNANTHI and on a scale never before seen, 12 metre screen.

Reko Rennie, Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay/Gummaroi people, New South Wales, born 1974, Melbourne, OA_RR, 2016–17, Walgett, New South Wales and Melbourne, 4K three channel digital video, PAL, stereo sound, 7 minutes, 47 seconds. Acquisition through TARNANTHI: Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art supported by BHP 2017, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide. Photograph: Justin McManus. Courtesy the artist and blackartprojects, Melbourne

Painting on Country is a project through which the artists of Tjungu Palya have worked directly with their native landscapes, to tell their stories. Senior artists identified a number of sites in their stunning country that were appropriate for the creation and documentation of ephemeral artworks drawn with natural white pigment ‘tutu’. The drawings were temporary, and have since washed away but a stunning series of large format photographs record the work under the direction of the artists of at the Anangu Arts Centre. Painting on Country seamlessly combines very old stories and drawing techniques with cutting edge photographic technology, allowing the Tjungu Palya artists to highlight the beautiful diversity of their desert home and tell their stories.

Erub Artists Ghost Net monumental installation of Australian marine animals Erub Island in the Torres Strait is a stunning home to some 400 people and the artist community has been commissioned to create a monumental installation that brings attention to focus a to a global environmental issue of Ghost nets. Ghost nets (abandoned fishing nets) are a global issue drifting aimlessly indiscriminately killing as they travel with the ocean currents. Around 80% of the catch is marine turtles. The Ghost net movement worldwide is rapidly expanding, striving to generate awareness, recycling and sustainability options that will rid the world’s oceans of ghost nets. Repurposing an environmental problem, Erub Arts has been working with ghost nets since 2010 and create magnificent large scale installation sculptures that have been exhibited worldwide. The Erub artists will be creating a large new commission for TARNANTHI at the AGSA, featuring marine animals that are found on the reefs and deep water, which surround Erub.

Artists (front) Sarah-Dawn Gela, (middle left to right) Nancy Naawi, Ethel Charlie, Florence Gutchen, (back) Nancy Kiwat, Racy Oui-Pitt and Lavinia Ketchell with their Squids, 2017. Photograph: Lynnette Griffiths. Courtesy the artists and Erub Arts

Kulata Tjuta (Many Spears) is a new work with more than 550 kulata (spears) made by men from each of the art centres across the APY Lands, suspended from the ceiling of the AGSA, above a group of piti (water carriers), made by the women. This large-scale installation depicts the impact of atomic bomb testing in Anangu Lands 60 years ago.

TARNANTHI will be officially opened on Thursday 12 October at 5.30pm on the forecourt of the AGSA by award-winning journalist, special advisor to the Prime Minister on Indigenous constitutional recognition and Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi man, Stan Grant. For a full list of events and exhibitions visit the festival’s website.