Australian and Filipino Indigenous artists join forces in a unique exhibition
The Bangamalanha Binnadang art exhibition, opening today at the Asian Center of the University of the Philippines in Diliman, brings a focus to separate but shared experiences between two different yet similar peoples coming from two different continents.
“Bangamalanha” is the Wiradjuri term for “sharing.” The Wiradjuri are Aboriginal people with clans across the state of New South Wales in Australia. “Binnadang” is the equivalent term in the language of the Indigenous Peoples of Northern Kankana-ey and Sagada in the Mountain Province in Luzon.
The exhibit is the latest culmination of cultural exchanges between Central West artists of New South Wales and Filipino potters and clay artists forming the Ub Ubbo Cultural Centre project that was started in 2007 by Australian artist Sean Cassidy. Several exhibitions have been held since then, both in the Philippines and in Australia, with the participation of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists from the two countries. Cassidy’s efforts to uphold Indigenous culture in the Cordilleras resulted in a wood-burning kiln provided to Sagada, with assistance from the Australian Embassy’s Direct Aid Program, to help keep Cordillera pottery traditions from dying out.
Bangamalanha Binnadang explores an Indigenous people’s histories and traditions that have been lost, evolving the remnants into contemporary sensibilities using both traditional and modern techniques to rediscover the significance of ancient rituals, symbols and mark-making in a peoples’ consciousness.
The exhibition features paintings, pottery, bark carvings and figurative sculptures celebrating both the uniqueness and similarities of the craftsmanship and artistry of Indigenous Filipinos and Aboriginal Australia. Indigenous artists from Sagada, Baguio-Benguet and New South Wales mounted the exhibition with support from the Australian Embassy, Centacare Wilcannia Forbes, Parkes Rotary NSW, Grain Corp., UP Vargas Museum and the UP Asian Center.
Two music videos will also have their Asian premiere at the exhibition. The music features similar Indigenous musical traditions shared by the Cordillera and Wiradjuri peoples, which are fused with contemporary musical movements, such as hip-hop. The videos focus on the expression of shared cultural sentiments and experiences of IPs from two separate continents. The music videos were produced by Desert Pea Media, a media organisation that works with Aboriginal youth across Australia to move Indigenous Peoples rights and concerns forward.
Bangamalanha Binnadang, running until the 11th of July, is part of this year’s National Aborigines and Islander Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week celebrations being held in Australia and at Australia’s diplomatic missions around the world to highlight the contributions that Indigenous Peoples bring across many fields, including the arts, media, academe, sports, government and business.
Noting the importance of NAIDOC Week, Australian Ambassador Bill Tweddell said, “Upholding the traditions of Indigenous Peoples and highlighting their significance is important not only to a people’s sense of self but, more importantly, to a nation’s development toward a better, stronger, and more inclusive future. Bangamalanha Binnadang provides a bridge between peoples of two continents who tread similar paths, and I commend Sean Cassidy’s efforts to help us understand the challenges that Indigenous traditions face in a 21st century world.”
Note to editors:
Participating Cordillera artists: Lope Bosaing, Tessy Baldo, Sigrid Bangyay, Jessie Degay, Edward Tambiac, Paul Albert Quiaño; Participating Australian indigenous artists: David Newton, Scott “Sauce” Towney, Scott