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Kaylene Whiskey awarded Melbourne Art Foundation 2022 Commission

Artist Kaylene Whiskey (courtesy Iwantja Arts, photographer Meg Hansen)


Australia’s national museum of screen culture and Melbourne Art Foundation, the non-profit organisation and owner of the biennial Melbourne Art Fair, are proud to announce Kaylene Whiskey as the recipient of the Melbourne Art Foundation 2022 Commission, supported by Artwork Transport and Panasonic.

Set to be unveiled at the Melbourne Art Fair in February 2022 before moving to its permanent home in the ACMI collection, Whiskey’s new video work will be the ninth commission of the 15-year program.

It marks several firsts: the first time the Melbourne Art Foundation Commission program has partnered with ACMI, the first time the commission has awarded a First Nations artist, and the first time it has supported the production of a moving-image work.

Established in 2006, the Melbourne Art Foundation Commission program provides a living artist with a rare opportunity to realize an ambitious work for unveiling at Melbourne Art Fair, which is later gifted to a prominent Australian Institution.

Kaylene Whiskey is a Yankunytjatjara artist from Indulkana, a remote Indigenous community in the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, South Australia. The artist’s strong connection to Indulkana and her Yankunytjatjara heritage will be the foundation of the new single channel video work, responding to the Fair’s 2022 artistic program thematic of ‘Djeembana/Place’ with an intent focus on her hometown.

Kaylene Whiskey said: “I’m very proud to live here on our Country and to hold on to our culture and our language. I grew up watching my family, my aunties and grandfather, making paintings about our Country, and I am continuing this tradition but using new ways too – dot painting and video. I want my work to show a strong, positive message about life in a remote Indigenous community. I am from the generation that grew up with coca cola and TV as well as Tjukurpa (cultural stories) and bush tucker, so I like to have a bit of fun with combining those two different worlds.”

Between ‘djeembana’ and ‘place’ is a lacuna in language. Direct translation fails. Djeembana, a word of the Boon Wurrung, is a place for community; a meeting point for the exchange of stories, rituals and knowledge. When we speak of place, we look to invoke that which djeembana signifies...

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