Wiradjuri giran gulbanha (Wiradjuri wind philosophy)

by Jonathan Jones

Wiradjuri giran gulbanha (Wiradjuri wind philosophy) 9th Asian Pacific Triennial 2018 Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art 24 November 2018 – 28 April 2019

untitled (giran)in a new major installation that has developed from the Wiradjuri gulbanha or Wiradjuri philosophy created in collaboration with Dr Uncle Stan Grant Snr, leading Wiradjuri language expert and elder. Wiradjuri gulbanha is a long-term project developing Wiradjuri philosophy based on significant materials and elements; these are wiiny (fire), galing (water), wood (madhan) and giran (wind). The giran, or wind, project draws on our cultural understanding of wind as an important part of country, connected to emotions, knowledge and change. The project builds on the embedded knowledge within Wiradjuri language, the movement of wind in country and stories of different winds, each with their own role to play and relationship to country and community.

This work is made up of 2000 traditional tools and an immersive soundscape. Each tool is affixed with feathers and speaks to the concept of how winds carry ideas and knowledge and to the close cultural relationship birds have with the wind. The traditional tools are bagaay (egg spoon), bindu-gaany (freshwater mussel shell), waybarra (weaving start), bingal (bone awl), dhala-ny (spear point) and galigal (stone knife). They map wind currents, bird flock formations or the flight of the boomerang, encircling and animating the space. The notion of adding feathers to traditional tools to represent wings speaks to the concept that knowledge is on the wind. Each tool is an idea, limitless in its potential.

Wiradjuri giran gulbanha (Wiradjuri wind philosophy)

In order to achieve the 2,000 objects this project has engaged with important issues around access of resources and cultural revitalisation. untitled (giran)has seen the creation of many cultural objects for the first time in generations, in vast proportions, including 2kms of handmade string, 300 spear points and bone awls. In addition, the project has seen the active involvement and contribution of countless elders, knowledge holders, artists and community members. Importantly, untitled (giran)required over 6,000 native bird feathers, which were provided through a public call-out. In addition to collecting feathers, the aim of this call-out was to encourage people to show yindyamarra (respect) and engage with their local environment, take note of the birds who inhabit parks in cities and towns, and learn to move slowly through country. The call-out was a huge success and countless feathers were received to achieve the project.

The soundscape has been composed with Wiradjuri languages and recordings of wind on country, breathing, birds and the sounds of ceremony. Uncle Stan has been instrumental in this project and has recorded a number of statements relating to the wind that anchor the project.

untitled (giran)2018, is a major sculptural installation accompanied by a 48-channel soundscape. It features in the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art at the Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, over 24 November 2018 – 28 April 2019,