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First Languages of the Monash University Collection


Guest Curator: 
Léuli Eshrāghi

In 2016, as an uninvited guest in unceded Kulin Nation territory, I began working with First Nations and non-English-speaking writers and translators to contextualise artworks by First Nations and Latin American artists in the collections of Monash University and the Monash Indigenous Studies Centre.

The first stage of this writing and translation program has brought a number of beautiful texts in English about Tiriki Onus, Alick Tipoti, Lydia Balbal, Kitty Kantilla, Juan Davila, Judy Watson, and Yikartu Petersen by Kimberley Moulton, Tahjee Moar, Cara Kirkwood, Clothilde Bullen, Pedro Wonaeamirri, Camila Marambio, and Freja Carmichael. A number of these texts were able to be translated into the artists’ ancestral languages to encourage their visibility and use in contemporary art contexts, including Tiwi by Pedro Wonaeamirri, Martu by Desmond Taylor, Kala Lagaw Ya by Alick Tipoti, and Spanish by Camila Marambio.

A text paying respect to the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation has been translated into Woiwurrung by Mandy Nicholson and into Boon Wurrung by the Boon Wurrung Foundation. This text will feature permanently at the entrance to the Monash University Museum of Art | MUMA. An extended acknowledgment that introduces MUMA and this program has also been translated into Woiwurrung and Boon Wurrung, and is published here. This writing and translation program will continue to enrich the knowledge of these artworks, the artists and communities who make them, and the culturally diverse spaces of the Kulin Nation where we live and work.

Curatorial statement, Léuli Eshrāghi, 2017

Léuli Eshrāghi is a Sāmoan and Persian artist, curator, writer, Monash University Art Design Architecture (MADA) PhD candidate, and an uninvited guest in unceded Kulin Nation territory. His work centres on indigeneity, language, the body, and queer futures. He is a member of the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective | Collectif des commissaires autochtones board (Canada), Broadsheet's editorial advisory panel, and Melbourne Museum's Pacific Advisory Group.


This project has been assisted by the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.


Commissioned Texts
Lydia Balbal

Martaguloo 2012
Text by Clothilde Bullen
Lydia Balbal

Martakulu 2010
Text by Clothilde Bullen
Juan Dávila

The Australian republic 2000
Texts in Spanish and English by Camila Marambio
Kitty Kantilla

Dance: Fire 1995
Texts in Tiwi and English by Pedro Wonaeamirri
Tiriki Onus

[Untitled] 2000
Bundjil’s anger Cave Hill, Lilydale 2000
How mopokes were made 2000
Mangurt, Aboriginal football 2000
Doolagahs 2000
The filling of Port Phillip Bay 2000
Text by Kimberley Moulton
Yikartu Bumba (Peterson)

Namunkujil 2007
Text by Cara Kirkwood, Martu translation by Desmond Mitchell Taylor