To celebrate twenty-nine years of exhibiting Aboriginal art in London, the Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery hosts a sound and video installation by contemporary Indigenous Australian artist Christian Thompson.
In Berceuse, which from French translates to a 'lullaby', Thompson performs the gesture of a re-imagining of his traditional language, Bidjara - a language that has been categorised as extinct.
The work is premised on the notion that if one word of Bidjara is spoken, in this case in the form of song, it is a living language echoed powerfully in the gallery context. Combining evocative chanting and electronic elements, Thompson invokes the cultural experiences and narrative of his Bidjara culture. Drawing inspiration from artists such as Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson and Christian Marclay, he firmly places his sound/video installation into a distinct and long lineage of artists who incorporate music into their practice. Thompson seeks to allow a sensory experience of language through the textures he creates via the sole use of his voice and simultaneously evokes the textures of the Australian landscape via gentle silhouette forms. Berceuse draws the audience into an intimate place, a hypnotic melody that transcends space and time whilst being powerfully connected to the contemporary present.
Thompson represented Australia at the 2016 Shanghai Biennale and made history in 2010 by becoming one of the first of two Indigenous Australians admitted to the University of Oxford to study for his doctorate. With work in the major public museums and galleries across Australia, Thompson explores Australia's colonial history through photography, video, sound and performance, in which he makes use of his own image to comment on identity, race and the collision of cultures.
The Berceuse installation is also part of the Origins Festival of First Nations, which runs from 10 - 25 June 2017.