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Damien Shen's exhibition 'On the fabric of the Ngarrindjeri body - Volume II

BY Erin Kinley | 02-Sep-2016
Indigenous South Australian artist Damien Shen has created a moving photographic series 'On the Fabric of the Ngarrindjeri Body', opening Saturday 3 September from 3-5pm at MARS. The images depict Damien and his Uncle Moogy wearing the traditional paint of the Ngarrindjeri people and documenting the first time Damien has worn traditional paint. The series of twelve photographs, recently acquired by the National Gallery of Australia, will shortly commence a two year tour of Australia, first showing at MARS from 3-24 September.
On the fabric of the Ngarrindjeri Body – Volume two
2014
Photographic prints printed on 310 gsm German etching paper (set of 12)
59.4 x 76.6 cm
(Edition of 5)
Opening at MARS on Saturday, 3 September from 3-5pm, Damien Shen's series of 12 photographs document he and his Uncle Moogy wearing traditional Ngarrindjeri paint in 'vintage-style' portraits and candid behind the scenes shots.

Damien Shen is a South Australian man of Ngarrindjeri and Chinese bloodlines. His artistic practice is embedded in histories, revisiting the people, places and stories that shape the world he occupies. From labour intensive drawings to bleeding water colours and velvety smooth oil paintings, and now deeply personal photographs, Shen is constantly constructing and deconstructing the world around him through his imagery to better understand his identity and the identity of those that help to shape the world he lives.

"Through a series of studio made photographs in collaboration with Richard Lyons (born 1967), I have simultaneously explored both a genuine documentation of my Aboriginal identity and the objectification of my culture through studio ‘vintage style’ portraits.

After talking about past times with Ngarrindjeri elder, my Uncle Moogy (Major Sumner), we photographed a number of the candid ‘behind the scenes’ shots with him to show the juxtaposition between the ‘Cultural Hero shot’ and the continued fight to keep our culture alive within a man-made setting. This was the first time that I personally had been painted up in the Ngarrindjeri way.

"What we captured was incredibly special. Not only is it a special moment in time for myself, it captures a Ngarrindjeri cultural icon of South Australia, Major Sumner, as he shares his time and knowledge with me. I felt empowered through this process of learning and spending time with my elder." - Damien Shen