Walking through a Songline: Ancient stories waiting to be told

Australian High Commission has organised the digital experience along with KNMA

Seven sisters Songline exhibition A viewer experiencing an installation at Kiran Nadar Museum of Art in Delhi

There are stories that travel from one generation to the next, orally told and become a part of one’s cultural traditions and folklores. In Australia, these knowledge pathways that trace ancestral ways of life, from one geographical location to the other, are called dreaming or songlines. Of these, dreaming of the Seven Sisters tracks the story of seven sisters escaping a lustful sorcerer, a shape-shifter wishing to marry one of the sisters. In the chase, both the seven sisters and the sorcerer shape-shift and travel across different countries, changing languages as well.

Across the night sky, it is a universal drama that can be observed in the Orion constellation and the Pleiades star cluster. As one steps foot into the Songlines exhibition, it becomes a trip down the ages and a journey along with the seven sisters. Digital versions of the elders (holding on to the stories) welcome visitors into their dreaming. Walls full of footprints lead one to marquee digital experiences that make one lose sense of time and be a part of the seven sisters’ journey. Puzzles to solve and artworks further make the experience fulfilling and interactive.

The dramatic digital experience has been organised by the Australian High Commission in India along with the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) in Delhi. The immersive multimedia installation 'Walking Through a Songline' (WTAS) is based on a component of the National Museum of Australia’s internationally acclaimed exhibition ‘Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters’. It represents more than 100 artists and is an Aboriginal-led exhibition developed in 2017, which takes visitors on a journey along the Seven Sisters Dreaming tracks, through art, indigenous voices, innovative multimedia, and other immersive displays.

Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Philip Green says, “Australia has the unique privilege of being home to the world’s oldest continuous culture and it is an honour to bring ‘Walking Through a Songline’ to Delhi in collaboration with the KNMA.”

“This exhibition will allow audience to experience the ancient stories of our rich indigenous culture and history through innovative technology. I am proud that through art, we can bring our First Nations stories and knowledge to the people of India,” he says.

The exhibition debuted in Mumbai in April this year and is on display in Delhi from May 26 to June 30, after which it travels to Bengaluru. National Museum of Australia director, Katherine McMahon, says visual artist Sarah Kenderdine’s outstanding immersive artwork ‘Travelling Kungkarangkalpa’ is an integral part of the original exhibition, and that they are thrilled to share their commitment to sharing First Nations stories with the Indian audience.

According to Roobina Karode, Director and Chief Curator of Kiran Nadar Museum of Art, the exhibition introduces the vision of bridging ancient legacies with contemporary audiences. “By integrating innovative multimedia with traditional storytelling, the project offers a unique experience that resonates across generations and cultures,” said Karode.

Produced by the National Museum of Australia in partnership with Australia’s Mosster Studio, the exhibition is being supported by the traditional Aboriginal custodians and knowledge holders of this story.

The India tour of WTAS is supported by the Centre for Australia-India Relations (CAIR), Deakin University and the Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ). 

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