Beyond Dreamings Symposium

  February 21, 2019 - February 23, 2019

  Harrison Small Auditorium


The 1988 exhibition Dreamings: The Art of Aboriginal Australia at the Asia Society Galleries in New York catapulted Aboriginal art onto the world stage. Dreamings was the first major introduction of Aboriginal art to American audiences and represented a major turning point in its international reception. Anthropologist Fred Myers describes it as the moment when “Aboriginal art emphatically became “fine art.” Dreamings also signaled a radical shift in the ways Indigenous artists and communities were represented in the modern museum. This symposium celebrated three decades since Dreamings, reconsidering its historical moment and examining its legacies. Speakers included artists, curators, art historians, anthropologists and critics who considered the future of contemporary Indigenous Australian art in the post-Dreamings era.

The symposium Beyond Dreamings was convened by Margo Smith AM and Henry Skerritt of the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia with advice from Fred Myers, Silver Professor of Anthropology, New York University.



Thursday, February 21, Harrison Small Auditorium

5:00 pm: Keynote, Aboriginal Art Over the Last 30 Years with Indigenous Curator Djon Mundine

Friday, February 22, Harrison Small Auditorium

9:30 am: Coffee and refreshments

10:00 am – 12:00 pm: When Aboriginal Art Became Fine Art, with Chris Anderson, John Carty, Françoise Dussart, Eleanore Neumann and Peter Sutton.

12:00 pm: Lunch Break

1:00 pm: Artist Balang John Mawurndjul Discusses His Work with Murray Garde

2:00 pm: Indigenous Australian Art in Contemporary Art Discourse, with Maia Nuku, Henry F. Skerritt and Terry Smith.

5:30 – 7:00 pm: Reception at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA (note: this event is in a different location, a 20 minute drive from Harrison Small Auditorium)

Saturday, February 23, Kluge-Ruhe Collection

10:30 am: Gallery Talks. UVA graduate student curators and the symposium speakers at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA (note: this event is in a different location, a 20 minute drive from Harrison Small Auditorium)


CHRIS ANDERSON  Principal at Yirri Global and Senior Advisor Acorn International

JOHN CARTY  Head of Humanities, South Australian Museum, and Professor of Anthropology, University of Adelaide

FRANÇOISE DUSSART  Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of Connecticut

MURRAY GARDE  Linguist/anthropologist, Bininj Kunwok Regional Language Centre

BALANG JOHN MAWURNDJUL OAM  Kuninjku language, Kurulk clan, Maningrida Arts & Culture

DJON MUNDINE OAM  Indigenous Australian curator, writer, artist and activist (Bandjalung)

ELEANORE NEUMANN  Graduate Student in the McIntire Department of Art and Curator of Beyond Dreamings, University of Virginia

MAIA NUKU  Evelyn A.J. Hall and John A. Friede Associate Curator for Oceanic Art (Maori – Ngai Tai), Metropolitan Museum of Art

HENRY F. SKERRITT  Curator of the Indigenous Arts of Australia, Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA

TERRY SMITH  Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory, University of Pittsburgh

MARGO SMITH AM  Director of the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of UVA

PETER SUTTON  Curator, anthropologist and Senior Research Fellow, University of Adelaide



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