Remote Avant-Garde: Aboriginal Art under Occupation
Jennifer Loureide Biddle is Director of Visual Anthropology & Visual Culture and Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Experimental Arts at the University of New South Wales. She is the author of Breasts, Bodies, Canvas: Central Desert Art as Experience.
Warnayaka Art: Yurlpa
This chapter is about yurlpa, the Warlpiri term for ochre. It tracks the use of yurlpa from the ground to the body to innovative uses by Lajamanu Warlpiri on board and canvas today, modeling the unique sensate materiality of yurlpa as a means to enliven Jukurrpa and keep it attached to the bodies and lifeworlds of its producers. Unlike in northern Australia, where there was a tradition of utilizing ochre in what first became known as “Aboriginal art”—bark paintings, hollow log burial sculptures, mimi figures, shields, spears, and other art objects—the Western Desert art movement did not have an ochre-to-art trajectory. The utilization of ochre today in (so-called) experimental art provides a unique capacity to explore backward the origins of Central and Western Desert Aboriginal art from its foundations in ceremonial ground paintings and body aesthetics to “remembering forward” to revelations taking shape in its radically new usage.