CARRIAGEWORKS AND PERFORMANCE SPACE PRESENT
Renowned Torres Strait Islander artist Ken Thaiday Senior has been commissioned to present a major installation accompanied by a series of new dances. Ken Thaiday’s practice traverses dance, installation and sculpture and embodies cultural customs with modern materials. Inspired by the landscape of the Torres Strait and the importance of family, faith and culture, Thaiday’s art explores the intersection of traditional lore with contemporary life.
Born in Erub (Darnley Island) Torres Strait in 1950, over the last two decades Thaiday’s work has received international acclaim. Known for his extraordinary headdresses —also called dance machines— Thaiday’s practice is interwoven with the traditional song and dance of the Torres Strait taught to him by his father, the choreographer and cultural leader Tat Thaiday. The dance machines animate the songs and stories of a seafaring people whose culture is inseparable from the land and life of the Torres Strait.
The exhibition will showcase the range of the artist’s works, traversing dance, installation and kinetic sculpture. The centrepiece of the exhibition is a monumental and elaborate sculpture that references the Dhari, a traditional form of headdress found only in the Torres Strait Islands. The Dhari (also known as Dari in the east and Dhoeri in the west) is the most recognisable symbol of the Torres Strait peoples. Depicted in white on the region’s flag the Dhari represents cultural pride, peace and unity across the Torres Strait. Customarily worn by male tribal warriors and fashioned from cane, pearl shell and frigatebird feathers, today the Dhari is worn by men during traditional Torres Strait Island dance performances. At almost four metres tall, the Dhari made by Thaiday for the Carriageworks space is a commanding linear structure. Thaiday has incorporated moving components within the work to suggest its dynamic state when activated through dance.
Additionally, a new scorpion and crayfish sculpture will be shown alongside existing works including Eastern Island Warrior Headdresses, a frigatebird, and 3 biezam hammerhead shark headdresses – the artist’s family totem.
Thaiday has also choreographed 3 new works which will be performed by Erub Kebile, a troupe of Torres Strait Islander dancers at the exhibition opening, and again at a special public program where the artist will speak about his work. A film of these new dances will be included in the exhibition.
‘THE MOST DISTINCTIVE ARTIST OF THE EASTERN TORRES STRAIT.’ THE AUSTRALIAN
3 OCT – 23 NOV 2014
3 OCT – 23 NOV 10AM-6PM