Kaylene Whiskey awarded Melbourne Art Foundation 2022 Commission

Yankunytjatjara artist adds major commission to growing list of accolades.

Words: Charlotte Middleton

Off the back of a number of significant awards in recent years, Yankunytjatjara artist Kaylene Whiskey has been announced as recipient of the Melbourne Art Foundation 2022 Commission, in partnership with ACMI. Supported by Artwork Transport and Panasonic, the commission will see Whiskey’s new video work unveiled at the Melbourne Art Fair in February 2022, before moving to its permanent home in the ACMI collection.

Established in 2006, the Melbourne Art Foundation Commission program provides a living artist with a rare opportunity to realise an ambitious work for unveiling at Melbourne Art Fair, to be later gifted to a prominent Australian institution.

As the ninth commission of the 15-year program, Whiskey’s win marks the first time that the Commission has selected a First Nations artist. It is also the first time that the Melbourne Art Foundation Commission program has partnered with ACMI, and the first time it has supported the production of a moving image work.

Hailing from the remote Indigenous community of Indulkana in South Australia’s Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands, Kaylene Whiskey is represented by Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Warrang/Sydney. A finalist in the 2020 Archibald Prize and winner of Heathcote Cultural Precinct’s 2020 Digital Art Prize, the Yankunytjatjara artist melds pop culture references with traditional Anangu culture in a playful, irreverent interpretation of life in a remote Indigenous community.

Whiskey’s connection to culture and Country in Indulkana will serve as foundation of the new single channel video work, in line with the Fair’s 2022 program thematic of ‘Djeembana/Place’.

The artist said: “I’m very proud to live here on our Country and to hold on to our culture and our language. I want my work to show a strong, positive message about life in a remote Indigenous community. I am from the generation that grew up with Coca-Cola and TV as well as Tjukurpa (cultural stories) and bush tucker, so I like to have a bit of fun with combining those two different worlds.”

Melbourne Art Foundation CEO and Fair Director, Maree Di Pasquale said: “Kaylene Whiskey is an important Australian contemporary artist on the rise. Kaylene’s unique visual language portraying native flora and fauna alongside pop idols and consumer products will provide a playful yet critical commentary on place and the impact of globalisation on remote Indigenous communities.”

ACMI Director & CEO Katrina Sedgwick OAM said: “We’re delighted that Kaylene Whiskey is the recipient of the ACMI supported Melbourne Art Foundation Commission. Kaylene’s work is in our permanent exhibition and we’re thrilled to be working with her again to support the creation of a brand-new moving image work.”

This marks the third commission supported by Artwork Transport, the Official Transport Partner of Melbourne Art Fair.

Melbourne Art Fair will return from 17-20 February 2022, at the DCM designed Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, to present solo shows and works of scale and significance by artists from 50 of the region’s leading contemporary galleries.

The Commission will be unveiled at the Melbourne Art Fair Vernissage on Thursday 17 February 2022.

This article was originally published 3 August 2021.

Image: Kaylene Whiskey. Courtesy: Iwantja Arts and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney. Photography: Meg Hansen.

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