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Experimental, energetic, bold: the Tarnanthi festival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art surprises and shocks

By Catherine Speck, Professorial Fellow (Honorary), The University of Melbourne
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Review: Tarnanthi, Art Gallery of South Australia

The word “Tarnanthi”, from Kaurna language of the Adelaide Plains, means “to rise up, spring forth or appear”, and it informs the philosophy and curatorship of this contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Festival under artistic director Nici Cumpston. The word itself signifies new ways of thinking: it is this quality which makes Tarnanthi 2021, and its preceding iterations from 2015, so special.

Cumpston’s approach to exhibition-making is based on dialogue and collaboration with the artists and it…

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