Mar̠angka Wangkapai: Hand talk on Spinifex Country

Mar̠angka Wangkapai (2021-2022) was a creative project driven by next generation Spinifex artists at Tjuntjuntjara Aboriginal Community. The project was designed to document and explore Pitjantjatjara sign language through photomedia and other artforms. Tjuntjtuntjara is a small and extremely remote community situated in the Great Victoria Desert of Western Australia where Pitjantjatjara remains the primary spoken language. Home of the infamous Spinifex Arts Project, some of the younger artists have expanded into technology-based artforms such as photography, video and animation. The Mar̠angka Wangkapai project used still photography to capture many handsigns Anangu use on an everyday basis. Elders were consulted to fill in missing knowledge gaps. Artists choreographed short signed video stories, learning the ropes of camera work, video editing skills and applying creative effects to their stories. All the editing was done by the artists themselves with artist/facilitator Louise Allerton working on site. They also honed important translation skills in the process by adding Pitjantjatjara and English text to the videos. The videos are intended to help maintain the language for coming generations and to provide new creative and cultural avenues for artists. Some of the works have been shown in galleries in Melbourne and Perth. The project received funding from the Australia Council for the Arts and Anglo Gold Ashanti and was supported by the Spinifex Arts Project space.

The artists who worked on the project are:

Noreen Anderson, Michelle Anderson, Eleanor Anderson, Sophia Brown, Katy Brown, Patric Currie, Maureen Donegan, Suzina Goodwin, Ned Grant, Kendrea Hogan, Janine Hogan, Timo Hogan, Pamela Hogan, Regina Hogan, Shonna Jamieson, Ivy Laidlaw, Noeli Rictor, Tracey Simms, Kunmanara Stevens, Nulpingka Simms, Lennard Walker.


Louise Allerton

All work was done on country at Tjuntjuntjara and on short bush trips.