Reviews/Visual Art

An intimate glimpse into Martu culture

12 December 2019

Review: Curtis Taylor, ‘Untitled (Uura)’ ·
Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts ·
Review by Jess Boyce ·

Though Curtis Taylor is recognised as one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists, “Untitled (Uura)” is his first solo exhibition. The exhibition brings together the screen work that the Martu artist is known for, as well as sculpture, installation and wall paintings.

On first glance, the exhibition is a stark and sterile presentation; we observe the artificial light of a red neon coffin, bold wall paintings (in both paint and blood) and large chunks of carved timber against white walls and concrete floors. Yet on closer inspection the works offer an intimate (yet measured) glimpse into the materiality of ceremony and contemporary Martu culture.

Photo: Bo Wong

As the catalogue text explains, the exhibition title “Untitled (Uura)” is a critique of museums and galleries across the globe in which Indigenous Australian artworks and objects are found, confined and displayed with artist unknown and unacknowledged. In comparison, Taylor cannot be removed from the artwork exhibited in “Untitled (Uura)”; he is in it physically, his blood splayed against the wall, his face staring out at the viewer in photographs and plaster casts.

Two videos, hidden behind the wall and viewed through peepholes, feature erotic scenes. In one a didgeridoo is used as a sex toy, in the other a strip tease is performed on top of Uluru (access to the climb finally closed days after the exhibition opened). Whilst the peepholes initially appear to be a way of hiding the videos from view so as not to confront unwilling viewers, the act of placing your eye against the wall and slipping on the headphones makes the act more intimate, harder to look away from. The viewer becomes a voyeur of the disregard of Indigenous culture.

Disguised as a white cube exhibition, “Untitled (Uura)” presents complex reflections on self, death, ceremony, language, culture and Country.

“Untitled (Uura)” runs until December 22.

Top photo: Bo Wong.

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Jess Boyce

Jess Boyce is an artist and curator with a passion for the promotion of Perth arts. Jess has worked in a range of community, commercial and artist run spaces across Perth and co-founded Cool Change Contemporary in 2018. She has joyful playground memories of the wombat shaped spring rockers.

Past Articles

Read Next

  • Kiki Saito and Matthew Lehmann in Nils Christe's Before Nightfall. Photo by Bradbury Photography copy Two West Australian ballet dancers on stage - a woman is perched on one pointe, her other leg extended upwards in a split. She arches back, supported by a male dancer. Hitting high notes at 70

    Hitting high notes at 70

    25 June 2022

    Traversing a range of human emotion, West Australian Ballet’s latest triple bill is an evening of beautifully performed contemporary dance, reports Kim Balfour.

    Reading time • 6 minutesDance
  • Cabaret festival. A singer wearing a fur hat is on stage with a pianist, guitarist and drummer. We can see the dress circle seats of the theatre in the background lit in a greenish light. Tributes to musical idols light up stage

    Tributes to musical idols light up stage

    23 June 2022

    A cabaret veteran and opera performer bring very different interpretations of the greats of classical, jazz and pop in the second week of the Perth International Cabaret Festival, writes David Zampatti

    Reading time • 6 minutesCabaret
  • A semi circle of 8 singers, with one standing in the centre, facing an audience. They are in a large hall and there are cnadles, chairs and pot plants decorating the floor around them. Vanguards bring poetry to vocal music

    Vanguards bring poetry to vocal music

    20 June 2022

    Armchair poets become legends in their own lunchtimes in Vanguard Consort’s imaginative Saturday Night Poetry, writes Claire Coleman.

    Reading time • 5 minutesMusic

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio