• Zaachariaha Fielding and Michael Ross from Electric Fields in front of Nyunmiti Burton’s Kungkarangkalpa - Seven Sisters, 2020, photo: Saul Steed (Supplied. )Source: Supplied.
Electric Fields, Antara singers and SA's First Nations Dance Collective - Tjarutja will officially launch The Tarnanthi Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art in a special livestream performance.
Emily Nicol

9 Oct 2021 - 9:35 AM  UPDATED 9 Oct 2021 - 9:37 AM

The 2021 Tarnanthi festival will showcase new works from close to one thousand First Nations visual and multimedia artists from across the country in a multi-venue exhibition.

Presenting their own contemporary versions of two traditional inmas (cultural song and dance), fans of electro-soul group Electric Fields will be excited to catch the duo virtually, as they are joined by Antara Singers and Tjarutja dancers. 

Senior Kaurna man Mickey Kumatpi O'Brien said the festival is an opportunity to bridge cultures.

"The Tarnanthi festival is our opportunity to experience the wonders of culture in many spaces and places," he said.

"It is through our observing eyes, our listening and inquiring ears, and our doing bodies, we will emerge as a part of the Tarnanthi festival as one, and to rise together."

Hosted by The Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) from the 15th October, the exhibition will present a diverse range of artists from 13-89 years old representing desert, coastal and urban communities, and will span mediums from painting, weaving, and installations to sculpture, film and photography.

"Storytelling lies at the heart of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists’ work, and Tarnanthi provides us with an occasion to listen," said Tarnanthi Artistic Director Nici Cumpston.

"If we give them our fullest attention, they can transport us across time and country, into different ways of seeing and understanding. They represent a generous gift and it is an honour to work with these artists to present their stories at this year’s Tarnanthi."

AGSA will be home to installations such as Yankunytjatjara artist Kaylene Whiskey's merging of pop culture and traditional knowledge in her painting on a found road sign and moving image works.

Gail Mabo will showcase a bamboo installation called Tagai, a recalibration of traditional Torres Strait Islander navigational charts, and an homage to her late father, Eddie Koiki Mabo.

Partner venues for the festival will host exhibitions such as the augmented reality series 'Ngura Pulka – Epic Country', an experience which will transport visitors to the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, and Jacob Boehme's immersive theatre experience Wild Dog which explores the dingo and it's place as a cultural symbol.

"Tarnanthi once again demonstrates itself to be a charged and porous space for contemporary expressions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art," said AGSA Director Rhana Devenport.

"Visitors can experience the potency and vitality of culture in Tarnanthi through close to 60 projects at AGSA and across the state in a wealth of exhibitions."

For those not able to visit the festival in person, the Tarnanthi Art Fair will run from October 15-18 and will allow art lovers from across the country and the world to purchase artworks that directly support First Nations artists and their communities.

Now in its fifth year, the art fair operates under the Indigenous Art Code and supports the ethical production and sales of works of art by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. Since its inception sales have grossed over $4m.

NITV will be live-streaming the Electric Fields performance on social channels on the evening of 14th October. 

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