For the opening ceremony of exhibition Ngaldjorlhbo | Mother of Everything | Mère de Toute Création on Wednesday 6 June in Paris, we had the absolute joy and privilege to have 3 guest speakers, 3 “marraines” of the exhibition, who made beautiful speeches to express their support and celebrate the art of the women artists from Maningrida: Céline Parsoud, Nadine Bilong and Bobbie Ruben.
Text by Céline Parsoud
President of WoMen’Up – Founder of Gender Busters (*)
“As a woman who has been engaged for Gender Equality over many years, I am honoured, on behalf of WoMen’Up, to support this unique exhibition organised by and with the help of exceptional artists.
In the art field as in other fields, women have suffered from a lack of visibility and of representation which has led to the erasure of their creativity and talent. It is our duty to repair this injustice today. The arts and culture world, which has recently been the stage of waves of fights for women’s rights, must engage further for feminine artistic creation.
This is why at WoMen’Up we have immediately responded positively to this exhibition project honouring Aboriginal women, showing only works by women artists. It is a way to give voice to native women from Australia, to make room for them in our too often male and Western-centric cultures.
Focusing on the figure of Ngaldjorlhbo, this exhibition presents a powerful woman, a creative woman at the root of Earth, and it highlights the transmission to future generations. This echoes deeply with our own values and aspirations.
We are proud to support the art centres Maningrida Arts & Culture and Bábbarra Women’s Centre who both play a central role for women in the region of Maningrida in terms of their financial autonomy, access to health services and the protection of the environment.
We invite everyone to come and discover the beautiful diversity on display in this exhibition organised by IDAIA, Maningrida Arts & Culture and Bábbarra Women’s Art Centre, in partnership with New Angles.”
Text by Nadine Bilong
Paris-based independent contemporary art curator (*)
” « Women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size. »
A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf
The exhibition Ngaldjorlhbo Mother of Everything | Mère de Toute Création is an invitation to push back our frontiers and to start dreaming. IDAIA invites us to discover the message of the women artists from the Aboriginal community of Maningrida in Western Arnhem land.
This event will take us on an enigmatic journey through the multidisciplinary creations of remarkable artists. Their art is enriched by archives, documents of a contemporary life engaged in a century upset by many tensions.
As its title states, the Mother of Everything is a metaphor for the circulation of many forms and ideas which invites us to rediscover stories of territories that have sometimes been poorly explored, memories and rites which have inspired the avant-gardes as well as other cultural and transnational movements. It’s a question of renewing our memories and confessing that we have ‘missed’ an international modernism in a history of classical or traditional arts poorly understood in its humanism and universality.
This summer, sisters Deborah Wurrkidj and Jennifer Wurrkidj, as well as their Aunt Susan Marawarr will transport us through a contemporary ballad to the sound of cosmogonic rites. The New Angles space located on Passage du Grand Cerf in Paris will be crossed by three accomplished and important women within their community.
Tangibility is an ‘inner necessity’, a spirituality linked to a protective world. The mother figure is a spiritual emanation free from all material contingency, a protective force which crosses matter and soothes it.
The works presented and the themes addressed in this exhibition face the complexities of this unknown land. The artists insist upon the technical experimentations that pushed their ancestors to find a suitable form to the messages that they wished to evoke and invoke. The works are forms that cultivate and animate life, like notes of a very long journey that recounts the growing autonomy of colours, the concordance and discordance of dots and lines on various levels. Through their spirituality, these works express the nostalgia of a land often forgotten; the loss of our souls to the materialism of our era. The artists will bring through their crossing sounds and vibrations which favour a magical view of humans.
Indigenous arts are an unalterable source of inspiration, they are like an eternal abstract landscape whose purity of spirit and soul we admire. The works presented are bodies that cross time through a transmission of an ‘art’ whose faces can see beyond their sections
« The artist is the hand that plays, touching one key or another purposively, to cause vibrations in the soul. »
Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Wassily Kandinsky
To go beyond the borders of the dream through different media it to adapt to the new instruments of the world which promote the expansion of knowledge and the evolution of understandings, the reflection and therefore the spirituality of future generations, but above all it is a desire to transform civilisation by integrating values that are absent due to lack of knowledge. Ngaldjorlhbo will give women the power of universal knowledge, the knowledge of deeply rooted links to the primordial world, the links necessary for the transformation of identities in a world lacking uniqueness in the face of a savage globalisation or the rapid interweaving of differences.
The contemporary works of the people of the world are first of all narratives or fictions which place the spectator in the face of an explosion of the world. Detaching themselves from the normalised or traditional aesthetic, fiction initiates dialogues; it helps to continue the narrative, to support the forms imperceptible and sometimes misunderstood by the public. Finally, this dialogue helps to reconnect with the tradition of songs, dreams or myths, a heterogenous logic of fiction devoted to giving meaning to the evening lights.
« And yet, the only exciting life is the imaginary one. »
The Diary : 1915-1941 – Virginia Woolf “
Introduction to Babbarra textiles
by Bobbie Ruben
Australian printmaker, textile designer and educator (*)
“Thank you for asking me to speak at this exceptional cross-disciplinary exhibition of art and design from Maningrida in Arnhem Land. Arnhem Land is Aboriginal owned land in the remote north of Australia; it is 3 times the size of Belgium with only 16,000 inhabitants many of whom practice the oldest unbroken tradition of art in the world.
Over the past 15 years I have had the absolute privilege to work with Deborah Wurrkidj, Jennifer Wurrkidj and Susan Marrawar; courageous, dedicated and inspirational women. While these artists have created artworks using a range of media, I will comment on the textile exhibits and specifically the screen-printed textiles – the area of my involvement. The textiles shown here also include lino-block prints on fabric where unlike screen-printed textiles; each piece is a unique one-off print.
Aboriginal textile production began nearly 50 years ago in remote community art centres, however it is only in the last 10 years that we have seen a rapid expansion in the creation of these beautiful and high quality hand printed textiles. In the last five years these textiles have achieved awards in national Indigenous art and fashion events, have been exhibited both nationally and internationally, acquired by collecting institutions, and have been commissioned by large corporations and high-end design and fashion businesses. Babbarra Women’s Art Centre has been at the vanguard of this movement and now has a collection of over a 100 remarkable large-format textile designs.
A strong aesthetic and visual beauty sell the textiles, but underpinning the consumer desirability for the textiles are the important cultural stories recorded in the designs. Celebrated for their vitality and sense of joyousness, the finished textiles communicate a rich history of spiritual belief and material culture that draws on ancient traditions, ancestral stories and natural environments. Bush foods, animal and plant life as well as domestic objects such as dillybags, fish traps, mats and coolamons are depicted in the textiles. The screen-printing technique lends an authenticity and rawness to the finished product, capturing the original touch and integrity of the artist’s hand, and yet embodying cutting-edge design.
The textiles form a starting point for invention and renewal – they hold a niche position in the Indigenous arts market as both a high-end cultural product conveying country and culture, and as an economic enterprise offering artists many possibilities in the fine art, design and fashion sectors. In remote Aboriginal communities where there are few opportunities for economic enterprise, the textile enterprises have created an active and motivating work environment, a place for intergenerational exchange, and provided a real capacity for economic development, employment, education and travel.
It is very exciting that Aboriginal textiles from Babbarra Women’s Art Centre have arrived in Paris and I will leave you to think about other opportunities in France for these very special textiles. I hope you enjoy this exhibition.”