Technology

Parrtjima: Indigenous light festival returns to Alice Springs

The annual Parrtjima – A Festival in Light, is back in Alice Springs (Mparntwe) for its third year in a row!

The ten-day festival will run from 28 September – 7 October with a huge creative program to showcase some brilliant contemporary art by some of Central Australia’s most celebrated Aboriginal artists.

The festival is a free public event and the only Indigenous light festival of its kind – proudly showcasing the oldest continuous culture on earth through the newest technology, on a 300-million-year-old natural canvas.

And this year will be their biggest yet. Visitors can take their time, wandering through the stunning natural landscape and experience five new large-scale light installations. The MacDonnell Ranges will again be the canvas for a series of stunning lighting effects, designed to reflect the theme of the cyclical patterns of the sun and the moon.

Parrtjima will also launch a dedicated children’s space to engage and incite curiosity among young and old alike.

Under the curatorial direction of Rhoda Roberts AO, who returns to curate the event for a second year, the 2018 theme is ‘Cultural Freedom’, which celebrates the ways Aboriginal artists’ practices have evolved through new styles and materials while remaining true to the ancient philosophy of connection and country.

“Parrtjima means shedding both light and understanding, but it’s much more. It’s the generosity and spirit of a peoples who have and always will care for country and for the many travellers who visit this timeless land,” said Roberts.

Roberts has worked closely with the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group and alongside the Northern Territory Major Events Company and AGB Events to develop an amazing program of art and culture featuring artists from all over Central Australia.

This year’s festival will showcase works from artists from several notable arts centres including Ninuku Arts, Warnayaka Art, Ikuntji Artists, Barkly Regional Arts, Bachelor Institute and Keringke Arts.

Benedict Kngwarraye Stevens, a Traditional Owner (one of the Apmereke-artweye for Mparntwe) and member of the Parrtjima Festival Reference Group said, “As one of the local custodians who are guiding and advising Parrtjima, we feel proud to be hosting this event, helping people to experience culture, art and country while inspiring young people that culture has strength and beauty and can stand up in front of the world.”

Speaking on the role of the festival, Stevens said, “It always begins with sand. Always did. It’s like us. We were brought up in dust, and we go back to dust. See. Like that. The cycle. From sand to canvas to light to sand again. It’s like us.”

In 2019 Parrtjima will return for a fourth consecutive year but will move from its original September timing to an earlier schedule in April (5-14 April 2019). Visitors to the free family-friendly event can explore the installations at their leisure and relax at the Festival Hub in the beautiful surrounds of Alice Springs Desert Park from 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm each night.

Parrtjima (pronounced Par-CHee-ma) comes from the Arrernte group of languages, which has many dialects and ways of spelling words. In Central and Eastern Arrernte, ‘pwarrtyeme’ means ‘to shine’. The spelling of the event’s name was chosen by the Arrernte group advising the festival in its first year. It suggests shedding both light and understanding on a subject.

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