Alick Tipoti: NAIDOC Week*

Alick Tipoti playing a conch shell at the beginning of the NAIDOC Week performance, 2012. Photo: © David Hempenstall. Courtesy National Gallery of Australia

To celebrate the start of NAIDOC Week, and in conjunction with its current exhibition of indigenous art, unDisclosed, the National Gallery of Australia invited artist Alick Tipoti and three of his colleagues to perform at the Gallery. Tipoti, a Torres Strait Islander, is a maker of ceremonial masks traditionally worn by a mawa (sorcerer). The performance took place in front of five such larger-than-life masks on show in unDisclosed.

Tipoti is a multi-talented visual artist who also choreographs, dances, sings and plays traditional instruments. He described the performance as ‘short, sweet and simple’, but it was a satisfying experience to see a performance in which so many cultural elements came together so well. ‘I am proud of my culture’, Tipoti said at one stage and the performance brought home very clearly the links between dance and spiritual life in Torres Strait Islander communities.

Alick Tipoti (second from left) and dancers, National Gallery of Australia, NAIDOC Week 2012

Tipoti discusses his work, and in particular the masks on display in unDisclosed, at this link on the National Gallery of Australia’s website.

Michelle Potter, 3 July 2012

*NAIDOC is an acronym for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee

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