Dr Keith Armstrong is showcasing the extraordinary three-year collaboration “Uramat Mugas (Uramat Story Songs)” completed with a wonderful team of artists – many from the Uramat Baining clan in the East New Britain highland province of PNG, Ruth McDougall Curator of Pacific Art from GOMA Brisbane, eminent musician David Bridie (Vic), Jo Kenny, and many more. Dr Armstrong is the visual designer, installation artist and media producer of the installation – presented in this year’s APT10 (The Asia Pacific Triennial) at GOMA, Brisbane – arguably the Southern Hemisphere’s most important exhibition of its kind, and one of the most significant reviews of Asia Pacific art today globally.
Through an active decolonising approach, the team have worked with the Uramat clan to present the night time fire dance masks consistent with their cultural wishes – suggesting them to be spirit interfaces rather than objects to perceive. Public outcomes were a 580m2 installation, over 2 rooms in GOMA’s premier gallery for their globally-significant triennial. Conceptually audiences journeyed through Uramat day & nighttime activities & ceremonies, engaging their pantheon of spirit figures. Room 1’s day masks were contextualised by 5 channels of village life & dance video, presented on tapa (bark) cloth plus 45 ‘digital canvas’ elements organised in sweeping lines. Renowned musician David Bridie’s soundtrack presented the Uramat bamboo drumming orchestra, chants & sounds of village life. The night masks in blacked out room 2 were contextualised by sound and dance imagery projected on dual scrims, periodically lit in the dark space behind. Computer control coordinated all aspects of the work. This unique layering method was designed to restrict normative mask viewing in accordance with Uramat taboo directives – a significant decolonising method that transformed normative museum display models, fully respecting the spiritual entities implicit in the masks through virtual return to ples (place). Its key contribution was developing an appropriate exhibition design/display methodology for culturally sensitive artefacts through immersive experience & digital installation methods.
Uramat Mugas is situated on Floor 3 of GOMA, Brisbane – in their amazing 580msq gallery, custom divided into a ‘day’ and a ‘night’ experience – with the imagery (shot in PNG by a film crew) that I have edited to contextualise a powerful collection of Baining ceremonial masks in both spaces. 9 channels of video appear in many forms, and you’ll hear 11 channels of audio by legendary Australian musician and sound artist David Bridie. 04 Dec 2021 – 25 Apr 2022: 10am-5pm, QAGOMA, Brisbane.
Keith Armstrong: Visual Director/Installation Artist
David Bridie (Sound artist)
Ruth McDougall, (Curator)
Jo Kenny (Creative producer)
Lazarus Eposia, (Uramat elder/representative)
the late Gideon kakbin (elder/author)
Uramat mask artists
PNG film crew.