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News - 13th of June 2023

PICA announces Djilba/Kambarang Season Program

PICA announces Djilba/Kambarang Season Program

Running from August to September, Djilba is the Noongar season of growth and conception, marked by the blooming of wildflowers and cold, clear days. From October till November, Kambarang arrives and with it the return of hot weather.

Amplifying the female voice, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts (PICA) has announced its Djilba/Kambarang season program – embodied by language, memory and heritage – as internationally acclaimed artists Wu Tsang (USA), Sancintya Mohini Simpson (Meanjin/QLD) and Sriwhana Spong (Aotearoa NZ/UK) uncover hidden histories and marginalised narratives from 4 August to 22 October 2023.

Marking her first exhibition in Western Australia, Sancintya Mohini Simpson presents ām / ammā / mā maram, an exhibition of paintings, sculpture, poetry and scent that gives voice to the stories of indentured Indian women that have been marginalised or erased in colonial archives. 

The title borrows from three languages spoken across India: ām means mango in Hindi, ammā is a term for mother throughout India, and mā maram is mango tree in Tamil.

Simpson is a first-generation Australian and descendent of labourers sent from the port of Madras (now Chennai), India, to work on sugar plantations in the British colony of Natal, South Africa (now KwaZulu-Natal) between 1863 and 1911.

Following presentations this year at the Tarrawarra Biennial 2023; Savvy Contemporary, Berlin; and Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Simpson continues her global body of work, responding to silences in historical records and underscoring society’s need to reconsider the past as we attempt to heal intergenerational wounds.

Sancintya Mohini Simpson, The Plantation, 2022, image courtesy the artist and Milani Gallery, Meanjin/Brisbane, photo: Carl Warner

ām / ammā / mā maram traces the artist’s matrilineal heritage and her family’s journey from Madras and colonialNatal to present-day Meanjin through the use of materials common to these places and histories – such as sugarcane and mango.
 
Exploring embodied memories, and deliberately arousing the senses, for ām / ammā / mā maram Simpson layers materials including clay, corrugated iron, sugarcane ash, mango leaves, bark and timber, alongside techniques of traditional Indian miniature painting and enamellingEach element carries its own story and associations, from experiences of forced labour and violence to notions of inheritance, home and place.
 
Through her research, Simpson presents a speculative archive that speaks to the complexities of intergenerational trauma, memory, migration, loss and healing. 

 Wu Tsang, Duilian (production still), 2016, image courtesy the artist, Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi Berlin and M+, Hong Kong, © Wu Tsang

Based in New York and Berlin, Wu Tsang’s award-winning films, performances and installations move between documentary and fiction to explore questions of voice, identity and representation.
 
PICA presents Duilian (2016), which sees Tsang recreate the untold love story of the famous 19th-century Chinese poet, feminist and revolutionary, Qiu Jin (秋瑾) and the female calligrapher and publisher, Wu Zhiying (吳芝瑛). A revered figure in China known for her martyrdom in the anti-Manchu revolution, Qiu also defied gender norms, refusing to bind her feet and dressing as a man. In Tsang’s film, her real-life partner and collaborator, boychild, plays the feminist figure alongside the artist as Wu.
 
Rewriting the dominant narrative of Qiu’s life into a story of love and loss, Duilian interrogates the role that language plays in shaping history and the assumptions and omissions that reside within.

Continuing the exploration of language, archive and inherited identity, This Creature by Aotearoa New Zealand artist Sriwhana Spong is a response to the artist’s unfulfilled request to handle the only known surviving manuscript of The Book of Margery Kempe (1436–38), held in the British Library. The book is an account of the early 15th century mystic’s devotional life and her personal, highly physical, spiritual odyssey. Considered to be the earliest autobiography written in the English language, Kempe refers to herself not by her own name but as ‘this creature’.
 
Filmed by Spong on her iPhone, This Creature comprises footage of her hand touching various sculptural and architectural forms in London’s Hyde Park, including its resident tamed birds. As an anonymous voiceover narrates ruminations on Kempe’s complex somatic life together with fragments from Spong’s own biography, This Creature invokes the mystic’s style of writing to create a textured world of Spong’s own.

Each exhibition in Djilba/Kambarang speaks to stories that have gone unspoken and unseen,” says PICA’s Curator Sarah Wall. “These are narratives with parallels to the artists’ own lives and histories, bringing to light forgotten and erased female histories and experiences.”
 
Please join us for our Djilba/Kambarang season exhibition opening on Thursday 3 August, 6:30pm.

Sriwhana Spong, This Creature, 2016, image courtesy the artist © the artist and Michael Lett, Auckland New Zealand

Media Contact & Images

Tiki Menegola | tiki.menegola.com | +61 467 227 822

Exhibition Dates

Sancintya Mohini Simpson: ām / ammā / mā maram
West End Gallery
Friday 4 August – Sunday 22 October

Wu Tsang: Duilian
Ground Floor Galleries
Friday 4 August – Sunday 22 October

Sriwhana Spong: This Creature
Screen Space
Friday 4 August – Sunday 22 October

Public Programs

Artist Talk & Performance: Sancintya Mohini Simpson
West End Gallery
Saturday 5 August, 11am–12pm

Thank You to Our Supporters

Sancintya Mohini Simpson: ām / ammā / mā maram is supported by PICA’s Art Commissioners. Wu Tsang: Duilian is supported by the United States Government.