Samstag’s Kudlila season transcribes place and culture in two stirring exhibitions

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Kristian COULTARD, Akurra, installation view, Samstag Museum of Art, 2024. Photo by Grant Hancock.

The University of South Australia’s Samstag Museum of Art is preparing to launch its Kudlila Season, Kudlila meaning ‘winter’ in Kaurna culture, with two stirring exhibitions: a group exhibition titled MulkaYata/The Knowledge of Place and Indonesian contemporary artist FX Harsono: NAMA.

The installations, filling both floors of the gallery, will open to the public from 7 June to 20 September. Mulka Yata/The Knowledge of Place is a Samstag Museum of Art exhibition with the South Australian Museum, curated by Erica Green, Samstag, and Jared Thomas (Nukunu), South Australian Museum.

MulkaYata/The Knowledge of Place explores the landscape and ecology encompassing the Ikara-Flinders Ranges region of South Australia. New work is presented alongside historic material by Kristian Coulthard, Clem Coulthard, Ted Coulthard and Winnie Ryan (Adnyamathanha) with Sasha Grbich, Antony Hamilton, Kyoko Hashimoto and Guy Keulemans, John R Walker. A music performance and sculpture by Dylan and Christopher Crismani (Wiradjuri/European) and film featuring Kristian Coulthard by Malcolm McKinnon and Jared Thomas (Nukunu) accompany the exhibition.

Dating back to Earth’s earliest continent formation, known as the Adelaide Geosyncline, this mountainous region was established hundreds of millions of years ago and contains the Warratyi rock shelter, the oldest known site of human habitation on the continent and the ancestral home of the Adnyamathanha people for the past 50,000 years. It is also the site of the Nilpe­na Edi­acara Nation­al Park, with fossil evidence of Earth­’s ear­li­est com­plex ani­mal life, dating back 550 million years.

MulkaYata/The Knowledge of Place illuminates the ancient landscapes, histories and peoples of the region and proposes an historically layered, geological and cross-cultural conception of place.

The season’s program also includes one of Indonesia’s most revered contemporary artists. FX Harsono will present NAMA (‘names’ in Indonesian). The video installation featuring a choir focuses on the experience of the Chinese minority in Indonesia and uses Chinese names recited as a litany as both markers of identity and symbols of remembrance.

Director of Samstag Museum of Art Erica Green says, “Our Kudlila season will offer visitors a truly immersive experience of culture and place, both the Ikara-Flinders Ranges to the north of Adelaide, and Indonesia through the work of leading contemporary artist FX Harsono. From traditional practices to the experimental, these two exhibitions will showcase bold and creative artists and cultural practitioners highlighting cross cultural perspectives”.

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Antony HAMILTON, Hung white fox and shadow, Mulka Yata/ The Knowledge of Place, installation view, Samstag Museum of Art, 2024. Photo by Grant Hancock.

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Kristian Coulthard (Adnyamathanha) lives in the Ikara-Flinders Ranges. A skilled carver, Coulthard crafts artefacts including traditional coolamons (walking sticks), tools and weapons through wadna, a gallery/tourism venture he runs with his wife, sharing culture and stories with visitors to the region. He works collaboratively with Clem Coulthard, Ted Coulthard and Winnie Ryan (Adnyamathanha).

Sasha Grbich is an artist, writer and lecturer who works responsively with places and communities. An avid collector of things, found footage, sounds and stories; Grbich is fascinated by the way art takes part in the politics of everyday life. She approaches artworks as ecologies: unfinished events that perform with audience and in local environments. Grbich is a Samstag Scholar (2019).

Antony Hamilton (deceased 2020) was a graduate of the South Australian School of Art (1978) who lived for many years in Beltana in the mid-north of SA. An idiosyncratic and highly original artist during an irregular career, Hamilton participated in several prestigious exhibitions, including the inaugural 1990 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, and in 1999 a solo exhibition also at the Art Gallery of South Australia. A number of his works are held in the AGSA collection.

Guy Keulemans and Kyoko Hashimoto are SA-based creative practitioners who make objects that address existential threats posed by globalised resource extraction and advocate for new forms of sensory engagement with materials. Hashimoto and Keulemans have a love for historical and critical discourse and position their works as tools to open discussion around objects that transition between exhibition, commercial and domestic spaces in relation to the senses and the body.

John R Walker is a painter best known for his landscape paintings and has been exhibiting for over three decades. Working at scale, his works tend to have a carefully spare yet complex and contemplative nature. His SA landscapes vibrate with musicality while hinting at ridges, expanse and horizons. Rather than represent a single viewpoint, Walker has developed a way to express a fugue-like structure – a set of interwoven elements to invoke being in place.

Dylan and Christopher Crismani (Wiradjuri/European). Dylan Crismani is an Australian composer of mixed Wiradjuri and European descent whose musical style aims to fuse the best elements of American minimalism with European spectralism. He has recently been awarded a Churchill Fellowship, holds a PhD in microtonal music theory and composition and is currently engaged in microtonal instrument building projects. His compositions have been performed by the Basel Chamber Orchestra, the Australian String Quartet, Gabriella Smart, Sonya Lifschitz, Lisa Moore, the Elder Conservatorium Symphony Orchestra, and the Adelaide Youth Sinfonia. For Mulka Yata Dylan will collaborate with his brother on a sonambient sculpture in the gallery.

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FX HARSONO, NAMA (video still), 2019. Image courtesy of Tyler Rollins Gallery and the artist.

FX Harsono is one of Indonesia’s most revered contemporary artists. In 1975 he was amongst a group of young artists who founded Indonesia’s Gerakan Seni Rupa Baru (New Art Movement), which emphasised an experimental, conceptual approach, the use of everyday materials and engagement with social and political issues. During Indonesia’s dictatorial Suharto regime (1967-98), Harsono’s installation and performance work were powerfully eloquent acts of protest against an oppressive state apparatus.

WHAT: Kudlila Season – Exhibitions MulkaYata/The Knowledge of Place and FX Harsono: NAMA

WHEN: 7 June to 20 September 2024, Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm.

WHERE: Samstag Museum of Art, Hawke Building, City West precinct, University of South Australia, 55 North Terrace, Adelaide.

Samstag Museum of Art is located at UniSA’s City West campus, an easy 15-minute walk from the city centre. Free city trams operate daily.

Visit the website for more information.

/UniSA Release. View in full here.