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The Native Born: Objects and Representations from Ramingining, Arnhem Land

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA)


24 Apr 1996 to 21 Aug 1996

Curator: Djon Mundine OAM

about the exhibition

This exhibition of over 200 objects and images from Raminginging in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, was drawn from the MCA’s extensive collection of Aboriginal art. The MCA’s Ramingining collection was compiled by Djon Mundine (formerly Senior Curator of Aboriginal Art at the MCA and Senior Curator, Gallery of Aboriginal Australia, National Museum of Australia) through his intimate association with the Ramingining community as their art adviser over sixteen years.

In Aboriginal art, the natural world has been transmitted for generations through the integrated art forms of song, dance, carving and painting. All forms of representation in Aboriginal culture are not simply concerned with depicting objects in nature, but are aligned with the inherited histories and social structures that define Aboriginal culture and its intricate kinship system. The exhibition The Native Born respected and reflected these systems.

The exhibition divided the collection according to six different natural environments occurring in the Ramingining area: Larrtha’puy (mangroves), Diltjipuy (forests); Gulunbuy (waterholes); Retjapuy (jungles); Rangipuy (beaches) and Ninydjiyapuy (plains). Each painting and sculpture illuminated our understanding of an environment that is vividly alive to the artists at Ramingining. Senior artist Jimmy Wululu re-created his work Sandpainting (1992) on the front lawn of the MCA for the opening.

In 2000, a major catalogue was published and an international tour was organised by the MCA and curated by Djon Mundine.

The Native Born was supported by Bula’bula Arts, Raminginging and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission.

Tour Itinerary

Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany: 8 July – 9 September 2001
Palacio de Velázquez, Madrid, Spain: 31 January – 31 March 2002
Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Brazil: 30 June – 11 August 2002
Asia Society Museum, New York, United States: 19 September 2002 – 5 January 2003
Museum of Contemporary Art, Taipei, Taiwan: 17 February – 20 April 2003