Curators: Charlotte Day and Hetti Perkins
Monday 12 February - Sunday 18 March 2018
Drawing from the first major survey of the work of Bidjara artist Christian Thompson, Samstag Museum of Art presents Ritual Intimacy at University of South Australia’s SASA Gallery.
Through video, sound and photography, Thompson explores the concept of spiritual repatriation, which he developed recently working with the Australian collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum to complete his PhD at the University of Oxford. Rather than appropriating or restaging problematic ethnographic images of Indigenous ancestors held in the Museum’s photographic collection, Thompson chose to spend significant periods of time with these images, absorbing their aura and developing a personal artistic and deferential response that is decisively empowered.
Ritual Intimacy features an ambitious new commission, Berceuse. In this immersive three-channel sound and video installation, Thompson sings in Bidjara – his ancestral language that is considered to be officially endangered. Thompson practices what he describes as ‘the simple yet profound idea that if even one word of an endangered language is spoken it continues to be a living language’.
Ritual Intimacy by Christian Thompson is a MUMA exhibition curated by Charlotte Day, Director, MUMA and Hetti Perkins and presented at SASA Gallery by the Samstag Museum of Art. This project has been supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria. MUMA also acknowledges the support of the Gordon Darling Foundation for the accompanying publication.
Image: Christian Thompson, Berceuse, 2017, video still, courtesy of the artist, Sarah Scout Presents, Melbourne, and Michael Reid, Sydney and Berlin