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BUSH DIWAN Comes to Benalla Art Gallery

The exhibit is on display from 5 August - 16 October 2022. 

BUSH DIWAN Comes to Benalla Art Gallery

4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art (4A) in partnership with Benalla Art Gallery will present Bush Diwan, on view at Benalla Art Gallery from 5 August - 16 October 2022.

Bush Diwan is curated by 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art Artistic Director and CEO Amrit Gill, and Curatorial Program Producer Reina Takeuchi, and features works by artists Manisha Anjali, Anindita Banerjee, Monisha Chippada, Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa and Perun Bonser, and Amardeep Shergill, who respond to a pivotal moment in Sikh history in Australia by exploring the reclamation of identity, forming, gathering and laying foundations of community.

Each artist brings a different perspective to the thematics and intentions of the project using media ranging from screen and stills, to sound, performance, sculpture and textile. Anindita Banerjee, Monisha Chippada, and Amardeep Shergill explore familial traditions, stories, objects and ideas to connect their new lives in Australia to 'home', reminiscent of Siva Singh's gathering of Sikhs in worship on his property in 1920. Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa and Perun Bonser, and Manisha Anjali centre voice and social justice in their performance and screen work, echoing the civil rights and legal campaign Siva Singh mounted to assert his right to vote.

Amardeep Shergill integrates traditional phulkari embroidery into rigid sculptural forms, in a newly-commissioned work Aussie Phulkari (2022), embroidering in the green and gold colours of Australian wattle which are also reminiscent of the agricultural landscape in Punjab. Of her practice, Amardeep says, "my process of learning from cultural heritage was another way of speaking of my dislocated past. As a migrant, the notion of homeland and birthplace is always relevant to the artist, but so is trying to establish a life in the host culture with its own set of values".

Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa and Perun Bonser collaborate on experimental video works - dialogues between their individual practices as filmmakers, performers and writers; and respective Sikh and First Nations cultures. Of their work, Sukhjit says, "we're interested in the relationship between different communities, based on various aspects from culture to privilege, particularly Sikh relations to First Nations communities. Smoke and Linen (2022), Stolen Goods (2022) and See you at the train station (2022) all speak to these dialogues in action."

Exhibition curator Amrit Gill says, "the Punjabi word 'diwan' means gathering or religious event. The themes of community formation, gathering, reclaiming identity and faith following migration, and anti-racism are explored in Bush Diwan. In developing this exhibition we considered the universality of the story of Siva Singh - what is left behind in migration and how we form and reform identity in our adopted homes through ceremony and cultural practices, the struggles of racism and the erasure that comes with assimilation - and we hope works chosen will resonate broadly with audiences, particularly those with experiences of migration."

Benalla Art Gallery Director, Eric Nash, said "the exhibition is not an exercise of historical documentation, but rather a compelling contemporary exhibition underpinned by a local story of national significance. Featuring the work of six excellent artists, it speaks to Siva Singh's legacy as a Sikh community leader and civil rights campaigner by exploring the development of the Sikh community in Australia since his time; struggles and triumphs, traditions that are continued, and new traditions formed."

Stay tuned for an announcement of Bush Diwan public programs, including talks, performances and workshops.

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