The artworks of eight leading Australian Indigenous artists, specially commissioned for the major new MusÈe du quai Branly in Paris – one of the most significant cross-cultural collaborations between Australia and France – will be unveiled by President Jacques Chirac on 20 June.
According to StÈphane Martin, MusÈe du quai Branly President, the museum is testimony to the enormous vitality of Australian Indigenous art, and is destined to become one of the most emblematic expressions of Australian Indigenous culture abroad.
The Australian Indigenous Art Commission (AIAC) at the MusÈe du quai Branly is a landmark contemporary public art commission, and the largest ever of Indigenous Australian artwork, occupying more than 2500 square metres of the MusÈe’s faÁade, walls and ceilings over four levels and in 10 sites throughout one of the MusÈe’s four buildings.
The artists are Lena Nyadbi (WA), Paddy Nyunkuny Bedford (WA), Judy Watson (Qld), Gulumbu Yunupingu (NT), John Mawurndjul (NT), Tommy Watson (WA), Ningura Napurrula (NT/WA), and the late Michael Riley (NSW). The project has been co-curated by prominent Indigenous curators Brenda L Croft (Senior Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, National Gallery of Australia) and Hetti Perkins (Senior Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts, Art Gallery of New South Wales) in collaboration with Philippe Peltier, Curator in Charge of Oceania at the MusÈe du quai Branly.
‘This is my gift to you, to the French people, and to the people of the world, this is my heart.’ Gulumbu Yunupingu
Architect Jean Nouvel’s vision was to integrate Indigenous art from Australia within the architectural concept. ‘The building has become a canvas for the artists. They have revealed their extraordinary imagination through this Commission – taking their art practice beyond what we imagined possible,’ said Hetti Perkins.
Brenda L Croft adds: ‘The AIAC will change international perceptions of Indigenous art from Australia. The fact that Australian Indigenous culture is profiled in this way speaks volumes for the bold and inspirational creativity of the MusÈe du quai Branly, and its commitment to presenting unique world cultures as living traditions’.
A diverse range of innovative technical skills and artistic creativity has been combined to integrate the artists’ works into the fabric of the building.
Jennifer Bott, CEO of the Australia Council for the Arts says: ‘The MusÈe du quai Branly will be a focus of Australian arts and culture in the heart of Europe’s cultural capital for millions of international visitors for all generations.
‘I’d like to acknowledge the Australian Government and Harold Mitchell Foundation, without whose support this project would not be possible,’ added Ms Bott.
The Australian Indigenous Art Commission is supported by the Australian Government, through the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Australia Council for the Arts, and by the Harold Mitchell Foundation.