Organized by the Australian government in coordination with the Historians office of the City of Havana, the exhibition Australia Journey,...
Organized by the Australian government in coordination with the Historians office of the City of Havana, the exhibition Australia Journey, a display of Australian contemporary art from the Balgo Hills region, will be open to the public until February 24 in the historic center of Havana.
The presentation comprises three exhibitions with different visions of Aboriginal art in the Island Continent. San Francisco de Asís Convent’s Blanco Hall has on display 26 works by 18 renowned exponents of indigenous art in Balgo, one of the most remote communities of the Australian desert.
These abstract paintings, engravings and acrylics, with very bright colors that allude to nature, combine and balance both traditional and contemporary elements. The wisdom and myths of the indigenous people, as well as their vision of the world, fruit of a particular desert geography, inspire the works.
For his part, Wayne Quilliam, one of Australia’s most important photographers, who aptly deals with Aboriginal subject matter in his discourse, offers an exhibit of digital photographs in the northern section of the San Francisco Convent.
Through his photography, Quilliam provides evidence of rituals, costumes, customs, and more contemporary interpretations of nude art, which help in understanding his country’s history.
Two decades earlier, he took black and white photographs, usually experimenting with two negatives together, in which he incorporated elements such as the body, earth, and leaves. It was a way of appreciating the connection humans have with the earth.
At present, he works with clay and plaster to get a three-dimensional impression. This process is still in the trial phase. Quilliam confessed he wants to take advantage of his Cuba visit with future photographic work in view.
In the meantime, artist and curator Maree Clarke, an important promoter of cultural diversity, proposes a rapprochement to the ceremonies and rituals related to mourning.
In an exhibition of 14 photos and installations - the latter made from the trunks of Cuban trees - at the Carmen Montilla Gallery, Maree Clarke contributes different approaches from the perspective of both genders, which show how men and women’s mourning differs.
For this, she chose 38 women from an equal number of regions in the state of Victoria, her birthplace. Clarke, from her condition as a woman and Aboriginal descendent, has done deep research on life, death, and spirituality, intended to help preserve Australian traditions.
She thus came to the understanding that during the mourning period, women dress themselves in very elaborate ornaments which they wear between six weeks and six months; while men make scars on their bodies. The contrasts between the two rituals are pretty evident.
The artist frequently visits her birthplace to greet the elders and pay her respects to them. It’s also there she gets many of the materials she uses to make her installations. Clarke also investigates Australian culture in various European museums, and devotes her free time to jewelry.
Australia Journey is a collection that belongs to the Australian government; it’s a program created to promote Australian art. It’s showing for the first time in Cuba, after a long tour through other countries and Latin America.
Contemporary Aboriginal art from the Balgo region started to develop in the 1980s, and these days enjoys great international renown.
This cultural act marks the beginning of a stronger relationship between two countries. In this sense, artists Wayne Quilliam and Maree Clarke, who live in Melbourne, the capital and largest city of Victoria, gave lectures and workshops to Cuban students and artists.
Translated by Dayamí Interián García
Revised by CF Ray