Barayuwa Munungurr, Ruark Lewis, Bengitj Ngurruwuthun, Jeffrey Ngurruwuthun
Opening Thursday 6 August, 3pm
Gallery 1 + Gallery 2 + Screenroom + Boxset
Rambangi / Together as equals explores the cultural poetics and politics of the homeland movement through a collaborative installation-based project involving 3 custodians of the Yarrinya site (a saltwater estate in Blue Mud Bay, north-east Arnhem Land) and a Sydney-based artist. The project stems from a history of collaboration since 2009 between Yirrkala-based artist Barayuwa Munungurr and Sydney-based artist Ruark Lewis, along with the involvement of Bengitj Ngurruwuthun and Jeffrey Ngurruwuthun. One of the key ancestral stories embedded at this site involves the ritual carving-up of the flesh and body of an ancestral whale, Mirinyungu, by Munyuku spirit men (Wurramala or Matjitji) who are brothers of Mirinyungu. The story holds significant and sacred ceremonial knowledge for Munyuku people and is manifest through myriad features of the Yarrinya coast.
All 4 artists will converge in Darwin for the realisation of an exhibition involving a wall-based installation, a traditional bark shelter, film, photography, bark painting, sculpture, and performance. The exhibition will take up NCCArt’s entire gallery spaces (Gallery 1, Gallery 2, Boxset and Screenroom) and is presented in association with Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Centre, Yirrkala, and as part of the 2015 Darwin Festival program.
Barayuwa Munungurr (b. 1980; also known as Djirkurrul, Gulukurru) is an early-career artist based at Yirrkala. Barayuwa largely paints the designs of his mother Bengitj’s homeland, Yarrinya (through Munyuku clan ties), which is also the motherland of his grandfather, Wonggu Munungurr, one of Donald Thomson’s key informants in the mid-1930s. As well as painting, Barayuwa makes spears, spear-throwers, clapsticks and yidakis. He is also a talented yidaki player. After showing in Buku-Larrnggay’s Young Guns II exhibition at Annandale Galleries, Sydney in 2008, Barayuwa held his first solo exhibition at Indigenart, The Mossenson Galleries, Perth in 2009. Barayuwa was represented in the MCA’s Primavera exhibition in 2014.
Bengitj Ngurruwuthun (b. 1954) is an artist, educator and linguist. She is the mother of Barayuwa, and sister of Dula and Gambali Ngurruwuthun, the great ritual specialists of the region during the 1970s through to the turn of last century. As an artist, Bengitj makes paintings and sculptures (including larrakitj/hollow log coffins) which usually relate to Yarrinya. Bengitj has played a central role in Barayuwa’s ongoing collaboration with Ruark, as a senior cultural adviser and in providing English translations of the Yolngu concepts and subjects underpinning Barayuwa’s art.
Jeffrey Ngurruwuthun (b. 1978) is Barayuwa’s cousin, and fellow custodian of Yarrinya and surrounding Munyuku clan country through his role as a songman. Jeffrey has performed with Barayuwa and Bengitj at several exhibition openings including for the 2014 Primavera exhibition at the MCA, Sydney and previously in Sydney at the Australian Museum, Cross Art Projects and Macquarie University Gallery.
Ruark Lewis (b. 1960) is a Sydney-based visual artist and writer. He works in a wide range of media such as painting, drawing, installation, artists-books, performance, public art, theatre and audio-video works. A graduate of the Sydney College of Arts, Lewis’s first professional position was Curator of poetry readings at the Art Gallery of NSW between 1984 and 1988; his first solo exhibitions (in Sydney) were transcriptions of sound and music, titled Transcription Drawings. Collaboration has played a central role in Lewis’s multidisciplinary practice, and has seen him work with Paul Carter, Rik Rue, Amanda Stewart, and Jonathan Jones (among others) who first introduced Lewis to Barayuwa in 2009. Lewis was the subject of a two-part survey exhibition at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery & Arts Centre and Macquarie University Gallery in 2012/13, which forms the basis of his forthcoming monograph Thoughtlines.