Christian Thompson AO employs sound to call upon his traditional language at the Cairns Art Gallery

30 Jul 2021

Christian Thompson AO presents Berceuse in RITUAL: THE PAST IN THE PRESENT, a group exhibition at the Cairns Art Gallery till 22 August 2021.

RITUAL: THE PAST IN THE PRESENT extends Cairns Art Gallery’s interest in contemporary art practices within the Asia Pacific region and the world’s tropic zone.

The term ‘ritual’ is defined as a recurrent act based on the concept of passage to bring the past into the present. Like history, rituals are complex and can be framed around different ways of perceiving and interpreting reality and imagination. The works in this exhibition together transverse relationships between contemporary Australian indigenous art and rituals with the global context of cross-cultured ritual practices in the Asia Pacific region.

Presenting his newly commissioned work in this exhibition, Thompson sings a berceuse – a cradle song or lullaby – that combines evocative chanting and electronic elements to invoke the cultural experiences and narratives of his Bidjara culture. Intended as a gesture of re-imagining his traditional Bidjara language, which has been deemed extinct, the work is premised on the notion that if one word of Bidjara is spoken, or sung, it remains a living language.

Curated by Julietta Park, Teho Ropeyarn and Kylie Burke.

Immerse yourself in the digital exhibition here.

Image: Christian Thompson AO, Berceuse, 2017, three channel video, sound, 5:35 mins