Territory Stories

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Arts backbone


Association of the Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists


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Association of The Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists; Arnhem, Northern and Kimberley Artists Aboriginal Corporation; Art, Australian; Aboriginal Australians; Aboriginal Artists; Periodicals

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Association of the Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists

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Arts backbone


volume 14 issue 1, August 2014

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Association of the Northern, Kimberley and Arnhem Aboriginal Artists



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YAMA: Installation and Digital Art in Lajamanu By Neil Jupurrurla Cooke, Warnayaka Art and Cultural Aboriginal Corporation The project incorporates digital art, traditional structures and painting, sound, photography, video, and performance and is sponsored by the Australia Council's Indigenous Experimental Art Fund, Gretta Louw, Digital Artist and Project Manager. This YAMA project is a way for me to remember and honour the times when I was a young boy. Back then we didn't know about photos - even if the superintendent took a photo of us, we didn't know. After, when they showed the picture to us, we used to think 'Hey! How come? It was only a machine!' Now that we understand about all this, it's good to make more videos and photos to give to our kids. It's about knowing your family lines and what you're related to - your jukurrpa (dreaming); we are all related to our country. I want to make this project for my community, so that they can support me and help me to keep culture strong. Back in the 50s and right through to the 70s, we were living in humpies; collecting sheets of iron to make them. They used to grab forked tree branches, six of them, and put a rail across, and put sheets of iron on the sides and up on the roof, and cover that with calico to make those humpies tight and stable. During the rainy season we used to hear the rain pouring down on the iron outside. The humpy kept us cool during the hot weather too. Sometimes we had a doorway and put a sheet of iron on the ground just outside, with wood on top for a fire, so that we could sleep outside during the cold season. We had no lights, just firewood. Today we've got electricity and we have to pay for it with our power card - even for light and to watch TV. And we have showers inside with hot and cold water, washing machines and fridges. But in the old days we watched the fire burning outside, and the stars shining in the sky - no television - we went to sleep early, or told stories until we went to sleep. In the 70s it started to change; we had streetlights along the roads, and they started to build new houses that we moved into. It was hard on those floors in the house; at first I didn't like sleeping on the cement. Now we are used to the houses, and it's good too. We are living in a new way. It's a new lifestyle - but we still think about the humpy, look back to our grandfathers and grandmothers, aunties and uncles, how they used to live in the bush. I feel sad to think about that because we aren't living that way anymore. Now we pay rent. New things came in - and even though I'm right in my life today, deep in my heart, I still think back to those days. We can't go back to the way we used to live. But when we look forward, we want to live in a house where we feel comfortable; maybe we have an air conditioner or fan to keep us cool, or have a shower in the light, and a mirror to comb our hair or shave our whiskers. We can get up and go to the toilet in the night - no snakes, nothing like that. Before, we used to feel the snake going past in the night. We can't hear the dogs anymore, they sleep outside, and we have television inside. We have a kitchen and everything where we can cook on the stove. We've got to learn to live like we want to be. But it's still important to remember country, how to live there. Thats all in Yama. All images: The replica humpy, used to house digital and non-digital artworks, sculptures, and community events at Lajamanu Community All photos: Gretta Louw YAMA is an experimental multimedia art installation at the Warnayaka Art Centre, Lajamanu. 10 Arts BackBone eXHIBITIonS / keepIng placeS Volume 14: Issue 1, August 2014 Volume 14: Issue 1, August 2014 eXHIBITIonS / keepIng placeS Arts BackBone 11