Albert Namatjira loved the songs and dances of the 1940’s and 50’s but was never able to participate in the white communities’ social events. This performance honours the songs he loved and prepares a space in which he is invited to dance with us.
Friday 24 March 2017 9pm (1hr)
The Burke and Wills Mechanics Institute
Corner of Castlemaine and Camp St, Fryerstown, VIC 3451
Domenico de Clario
‘In 2013 I spent time in Adelaide researching Albert Namatjra’s life for a project titled ‘crystal palace’, to be exhibited at Flinders University in July of that year. Through my research I became aware that Albert had been a lover of American popular music of the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, especially its great popular songs interpreted by African-American singers and musicians such as Louis Armstrong, Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, Nat Cole, Duke Ellington and so on.
He had also apparently been a great lover of slow dancing as well as its able exponent, but was never able to participate in such social events because of the overwhelmingly separatist approach of the organizers of such musical dance evenings.
These popular songs speak of dancing as an expression of heart, and consequently of rhythmic and soulful movement as a highly expressive art form.
In my mind the spirit of the lyrics embodies our cultural equivalent of the Japanese haiku, manifesting soul-essence through the simplest of poetics.
At this evening event I will perform seven of the songs that Albert Namatjira enjoyed so much and welcome him to join us.
I will sing them slowly and presently whilst accompanying myself on keyboard, much in the way Albert would have liked to enjoy them, all the while believing in his presence inside the yellow-lit space I will construct for him, a space in which, I always dream, he would now like to dance.’
(seven songs for albert was performed on July 21 2017 at the Newcastle Art Gallery and on August 3 2017 at ADFA Space in Mildura.)
Dr Domenico de Clario is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and musician. He was born in Trieste, Italy, in 1947 and migrated to Australia in 1956. He has taught and held head faculty positions at a number of key arts universities. From 2009 until 2012 he was Director of Adelaide’s Australian Experimental Art Foundation. Since 1966 de Clario has presented more than 300 solo exhibitions, installations and performances and received numerous grants and residencies, including the Australia Council Fellowship. He is currently chair of arts mildura board and co-ordinator of museum of innocence mildura.