Era of the Elders, 2023

Artist: Nathan Gray and the Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation

Venue: Former Radio Station

In 2021, the Yindjibarndi people of the Pilbara (North-Western Australia) became the first Aboriginal people to gain an exclusive Native title over an existing mine. As evidence of their link to their land they submitted to the court songs, stories, and paintings from their cultural and linguistic archive.Founded in the late 1980s, Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation is an example of what curator Margot Neal (Centre for Indigenous Knowledges) calls the “third archive.” It is a combination of a Western written and technological archive and an Aboriginal form of knowledge preservation—an archive that is embedded in “country” as a site-specific set of songs and stories (often called songlines) that forms a mnemonic device for remembering vast amounts of oral history and ecological information. Juluwarlu’s collaboration with Nathan Gray is a work for radio that was created during an artist residency in the Pilbara, and draws from interviews with a generation of Yindjibarndi elders whose autobiographies are read by their descendants, framing a period of time characterized by resistance to land dispossession, oppression, and colonial violence. The blurring of the generations, the ahistorical audio settings, and the informal style and occasional interjections of the readers—many of whom are today’s elders—inexorably draws this oral history into the current moment, situating it alongside contemporary struggles and ensuring that the past is tangible in the present. Note: Please be advised that this work contains recordings of the voices of Aboriginal people who may have since passed away.

Juluwarlu Group Aboriginal Corporation (founded in 1998) is the cultural archive of the Yindjibarndi people of North-Western Australia. Nathan Gray (1974) was born in Perth and lives and works in Berlin.

Text by Joanna Warsza

Photo credits Tuğhan Anıt

Other Exhibitions

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive news, cool free stuff updates and new released products (no spam!)