China 2013 - 2014





To great acclaim in 2011 Warburton Community brought the - 土地-身体 Tu Di - Shen Ti / Our Land, Our Body. Master works from the Warburton Collection to seven major museums in Eastern China, were it was seen by over a quarter of a million Chinese people and formed one of the key events for the Year of Australian Culture in China, Imagine Australia in 2011.
Following this very successful tour and with the support of our institutional partners in China, the Guan Cheng Art Museum, Warburton Arts Project brought Tu Di Shen Ti to a further nine museums in China over 2013 - 2014.
Tu Di Shen Ti - Our land Our Body was produced by the Warburton Arts Project with substantial support of partners in China the Guan Cheng Art Museum in Dong Guan, Guangzhou Province. The exhibition was an entirely new combination of art works and cultural markers presented on a very large scale in the context of an indigenous cultural space acknowledging Western Desert people and their world. It’s production as a touring exhibition was formidable: genealogies, narrative text, photographs taken by indigenous school children, a 20 channel digital immersive environmental soundscape, data projected and multiple screen installations were important parts of the exhibition. The finest artworks from the Warburton Collection were displayed in a powerful, communicative installation format to create significant inter-cultural occasions for Chinese and international visitors, and it did this sixteen times. Four art glass installations and eight large textiles were added to the 2013 tour and both exhibition tours were supported by comprehensive fully translated colour catalogues.

The Tu Di Shen Ti 2011 - 2012 Tour

Shanghai Art Museum Shanghai 13/03/11 - 08/04/11
Nanjing Municipal Museum Nanjing 20/04/11 - 23/05/11
Today Art Museum Beijing 04/06/11 - 26/06/11
Zhejiang Art Museum Hangzhou 07/07/11 - 24/07/11
Xi’An Art Museum Xi’An 14/08/11 - 14/09/11
Guancheng Art Museum Dong Guan 06/11/11 - 26/11/11
Wuhan Art Museum Wuhan 06/12/11 - 01/01/12

The Tu Di Shen Ti 2013 - 2014 Tour

Guancheng Art Museum Dong Guan 03/06/13 - 30/06/13
Yongjiang Inlet Art Museum Nanning 09/07/13 - 30/07/13
Yunnan Art Museum Kunming 14/08/13 - 01/09/13
ASEAN Expo Nanning 02/09/13 - 02/11/13
Hohhot Art Museum Inner Mongolia 14/09/13 - 03/10/13
Tianjin Art Museum Tianjin 16/10/13 - 06/11/13
Sichuan Fine Art Museum Chongqing 05/12/13 - 17/12/13
Jiangxi Provincial Art Museum Nanchang 27/12/13 - 16/01/14
Heilongjiang Art Museum Harbin 22/04/14 - 06/05/14
Dù Fǔ Cǎo Táng Chengdu 23/05/14 - 15/06/14
Shijiazhuang Art Museum Shijiazhuang 06/07/14 - 06/08/14
Rio Tinto Logo
Rio Tinto is proud to be the Major Touring Partner for the Warburton Tu Di - Shen Ti / Our Land, Our Body. 2013-14 Tour of Western China.

The Tu Di Shen Ti Exhibition

Over 70 major paintings and textiles and four art glass works were presented along with an installation creating a sense of the cultural and social dimensions from and within which Ngaanyatjarra artists make their work. The walls of the exhibition space were prepared with the painting of several layers of genealogies over which artwork were then placed; over this sequential pages of text and an important photographic element of over 6100 small photographs were added. These photographs were taken by Ngaanyatjarra children at the remote desert Wanarn Community School as a special project for the China tour and they added a rich seam of youthful sensibility to the space.
A 20 channel digital immersive environmental sound installation and separate, large audio visual installation were other important parts of the exhibition ambience, along with a selection of 25 large format framed photographs of the Ngaanyatjarra lands. All texts in the installation were translated into Chinese, along with captions, an education kit, teachers guide notes and a full colour catalogue. Ngaanyatjarra artists, senior community members and leaders and schoolchildren attended openings and receptions during the tour.
A key feature of Tu Di Shen Ti was the education kit material available for school workshops in China and the subsequent work with art students in different cities during the installation/de-installation process. These programs offered significant opportunities to develop meaningful intercultural understanding and connections.
The exhibition installations worked to open a fourth wall in gallery space - the theatrical term relating to deconstruction of boundaries set up by works of representation here applied to exhibition rooms. This was discernible not only in the many small photographs (discussed below) by Wanarn schoolchildren but also in the creation of multiple layers of different narrative structures, each inviting the viewer to informally engage with a Ngaanyatjarra world in different ways. Reading or understanding elements within the space then occur by various temporal operations, a shifting praxis as one moves along the wall. It involves strong contrasts of different cognitive functions as one passes photographs, paintings or the linear experience of reviewing the texts. The contextual operation of these contrasting threads of narrative together constructed alternative, Indigenous forms of social and individual identity.
An especially important entry point in this respect were the aforementioned photographs by Wanarn schoolchildren. Informal, mosaic-like arrangements of these small images into their own layers and pools of congestion - each asserting the identity of the photographer as the author/ creator of the image and their world - all looked back from the wall and out into a space in common, that world of the gallery as container for shared intelligence, for installation and viewer alike.

This complex Ngaanyatjarra world of many parts gently challenged axiomatic, formalist ways of reading the exhibition, whether these were European or Chinese. Instead an alternative Ngaanyatjarra dimension was evoked, and the exhibition created opportunities in which the dilemmas of smaller cultural paths into Modernity and their entitlements might be considered by truthfully asserting multiplicities of alternative, lived identities.
Tu Di Shen Ti was seen by more than 400,000 people across 16 major museum venues in China during 2011 and 2013-2014. During this time the project brought out high standards of achievement in people working with it and created many new professional connections. The second 2013 - 2014 tour travelled to places in China with their own strong indigenous cultural traditions and which rarely received major international exhibitions. That such a tour would further enhance knowledge and understanding of Chinese and Australian cultures in important and long-lasting ways was clear but, as significantly for us, it offered an opportunity to re-cast the perceptions Ngaanyatjarra people held of themselves in highly positive ways. For younger generations of Ngaanyatjarra people the new opportunities for roles in arts management and the care of their culture  significantly added to their perception of potential options.
Perhaps projects such as Tu Di Shen Ti will also serve to extend the imagination of art workers and curators who wish to take shows to China: it seems to me that conceiving ways our nations can share our cultures as friends is not so much based on a triumph overcoming difficulties between the varying ways we do things as finding the common and abundant human ground between us. I am always impressed by the high regard in which Chinese people hold culture and the arts, and heartened as our significant partnerships helped along the way. The most important of these was with our dear friends at The Guan Cheng Art Museum in Dong Guan.

Gary Proctor

Tu DI Shen Ti - Our Land, Our Body 2013 - 2014 was produced by the Warburton Arts Project with the Dong Guan Guan Cheng Art Museum, Guangzhou Province, China. Warburton Community is grateful for the generous support of Rio Tinto as the Major Sponsor, the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Imagine Australia - Year of Australian Culture in China, the Australia International Cultural Council, the Western Australian Government Department of Culture and the Arts, the Australia China Council, the Australia Council for the Arts, the Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku, the Ngaanyatjarra Council, Sound Environment and Carbon Data Solutions. A secret to the projects success was its touring manager, Ms. Zhou Ling Ling.

Supported by the Australian Government through the Australia China Council, the Australia International Cultural Council, an initiative of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Australia Council for the Arts.