Arts

Dan Sultan to launch Tarnanthi Festival’s opening weekend at AGSA

Dan Sultan, celebrated singer-songwriter and Arrernte/Gurindji artist, will kick off the festivities of the Art Gallery of South Australia’s annual Tarnanthi Festival which showcases contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art.

Celebrated singer-songwriter and Arrernte/Gurindji artist Dan Sultan is set to ignite the opening weekend festivities of this year’s Tarnanthi Festival, the Art Gallery of South Australia’s (AGSA) annual showcase of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art.

On the evening of Thursday, 19 October, Sultan will open the free public event on AGSA’s North Terrace forecourt before crowds experience the Tarnanthi exhibition alongside hundreds of artists from around Australia who will arrive in Adelaide for the opening weekend.

‘The opening weekend of Tarnanthi is always a special event—presenting an opportunity to meet artists from across Australia, to gain deeper insight into who they are and their lived experiences through their works of art’, says Tarnanthi Artistic Director, Barkandji curator, Nici Cumpston OAM. ‘Like so many artists in Tarnanthi, Dan Sultan’s voice will be the first to shine as we launch Tarnanthi festival 2023 before the exhibition officially opens.’

The event, which will begin with a Kaurna Welcome to Country and a smoking ceremony led by Adelaide’s Kuma Kaaru, will be hosted by Shelley Ware—a proud Yankunytjatjara and Wirangu woman, corporate speaker and educator, and one of the country’s most well-respected media and tv personalities.

Robert Fielding, a cultural leader and respected contemporary artist of Western Arrernte, Yankunytjatjara, Pakistani and Afghan descent, will deliver a key-note address to artists and audiences from across the country also.

Sultan—winner of six ARIA Awards, NIMA Awards, top five ARIA-charting albums, and an ARIA-certified Gold record for Blackbird—is excited that the festival will be his only Adelaide date on his upcoming tour around Australia. ‘To launch this festival that showcases the extraordinary talents of our country’s First Nations people and culture is a real honour,’ says Sultan.

‘I know there were some disappointed fans when we announced my National Tour, and we left off Adelaide, but we promised we had something special for you, and with Taranathi Festival, we definitely have that. To perform on the steps of Adelaide’s premier cultural institution, there will be a real buzz as we open Australia’s leading First Nations Art festival,’ Sultan says.

An undeniably important artist in Australia’s music scene, Sultan has headlined shows around the country to sold-out crowds, supported the likes of Bruce Springsteen, and been a guest at various festivals around the country, including Splendour in the Grass, Blues Festival and Falls Festival. His self-titled fifth studio album, which is an intimate look inside the singer’s personal life and experiences, is released today.

AGSA Director Rhana Devenport ONZM says, ‘A brilliant First Nations musician, Dan Sultan is emblematic of the great talent and dynamism witnessed across Tarnanthi. We are thrilled to have his extraordinary voice launch AGSA’s acclaimed festival of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art.’

Following Dan Sultan’s performance, the AGSA courtyard will come alive with the dynamic energy of Melbourne-based Indigenous Australian DJ and producer Swayfever, as the Tarnanthi exhibition opens its doors to the public.

The Tarnanthi opening weekend presents a series of engaging artist talks and free public events at AGSA, as well as a panpapanpalya, meaning conference in the Kaurna language. This free and insightful forum will feature preeminent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists, curators, and academics and will be held in the AGSA courtyard also.

The popular Tarnanthi Art Fair also takes centre stage, relocating to a new venue—the Adelaide Entertainment Centre. This unique gathering offers an immersive experience, enabling visitors to engage directly with artists, learn about their creative process, and explore thousands of available artworks for sale. The Art Fair extends its reach online in 2023, ensuring that proceeds from both in-person and online sales directly benefit the artists and their communities.

At its core, the Tarnanthi Festival represents an intricate mosaic of exhibitions, artist dialogues, performances, and events, highlighting and celebrating the contemporary essence of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. The 2023 Gallery-wide exhibition will showcase works of art from studios, art centres, institutions, and communities.

The much-anticipated full program for Tarnanthi 2023 will be unveiled in mid-September.

Where: Tarnanthi Festival, the Art Gallery of South Australia.
When: Opening night: Thursday, 19th of October. Exhibition: 20th October 2023 – 21st January 2024.
More info: Click here.

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