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Christian Thompson
Bidjara, Queensland
Lives and works in Melbourne

Phantom 2018

sound
5.10 mins (looped)
Courtesy of Christian Thompson and Sarah Scout Presents
This work was first commissioned by the Art Gallery of South Australia for the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds.

As part of Monash University Museum of Art’s celebration of 2018 NAIDOC Week, Christian Thompson’s sound work, Phantom 2018, has been temporarily installed in the OMA-designed 2017 MPavilion, now permanently located at Monash University Clayton Campus.

In Phantom, Thompson – a Bidjara man from central south western Queensland – sings in his father’s language, now classified as extinct. Thompson sings the traditional names of flora from his Country, exploring the idea that if even one word of Bidjara is spoken, it continues to be a living language.

Phantom was commissioned for the 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Divided Worlds, where it was situated in the Palm House of Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens; a Victorian glasshouse imported from Germany in 1875, which features a collection of plants from the island of Madagascar – one of the most biodiverse places in the world.

"Thompson’s songs, like a most famous antecedent of lullabies – Brahms’s ‘Wiegenlied: Guten Abend, gute Nacht’ – have a haunting undertow. Across the world, below the shimmering surface of the melodic magical realism of ‘folk’ songs and stories, lies a warning of loss or harm – a prayer for redemption or salvation. Thompson compels you to wonder: will this be the last time this language is heard?"
- Hetti Perkins, 2018 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art exhibition catalogue

At Monash University’s Clayton Campus, Phantom is sited in close proximity to The Aboriginal Garden and the indigenous plantings in the Jock Marshall Reserve and across the grounds of Monash University.

In 2017, MUMA presented Christian Thompson: Ritual intimacy, which was co-curated by MUMA’s Director Charlotte Day and leading Indigenous curator, Hetti Perkins. This was the first survey exhibition of Thompson’s work and toured to Griffith University Art Gallery, Brisbane and UNSW Galleries, Sydney.

Monash University Museum of Art recognises and values First Nations peoples as the first artists and custodians of these lands and waters, and proudly exhibits their artworks. MUMA acknowledges and respects Ancestors, Elders and communities of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the central Kulin Nation on whose lands we live and work.


Image: Christian Thompson, Untitled (banksia) 2007, Type C photograph, Monash University Collection. Purchased by the Faculty of Science 2015