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Steven Rhall Pops In To Talk About Wilam Biik Exhibition

Steven Rhall is a post-conceptual artist operating from a First Nations, white-passing, cis male, neurodivergent positionality. He interrogates modes of representation, classification and hierarchy using installation, performance, curatorial projects and sculpture. His interdisciplinary practice responds to the socio-cultural landscape, creating networks of interconnected signs and symbols. Reflecting upon both medium specificity, the meaning of objects and cultural semiotics, Rhall often merges post-colonial and interpersonal narratives.

In the Woiwurrung language of the Wurundjeri people, Wilam Biik means Home Country. How do we see Country? How do we listen to Country? How do we connect to Country? You are called to listen deeply with your ears, eyes and hearts– to understand how First People connect with Wilam Biik.

Wilam Biik is the Soil, the Land, the Water, the Air, the Sky and the Animals that reside within. It is the only home we know, and we honour it for its sacred exchange. A home where Custodial rights and responsibilities never left. An exhibition of cultural consciousness and knowledge, of an unsevered connection between First Peoples of South East Australia and their Country, over thousands of generations. WILAM BIIK is the second exhibition to be presented as part of Yalingwa, a Victorian Government initiative. Yalingwa is a partnership between the Victorian Government, ACCA and TarraWarra Museum of Art, designed to support the development of outstanding contemporary Indigenous art and curatorial practice. It includes three new curatorial positions and three major exhibitions alternating between ACCA and TarraWarra Museum of Art, focused on new commissions by contemporary Indigenous artists.

The exhibition features new work from contemporary artists Paola Balla (Wemba Wemba, Gundjitmara), Deanne Gilson (Wadawurrung), Kent Morris (Barkindji), Glenda Nicholls (Ngarrindjeri and Yorta Yorta), Steven Rhall (Taungurung), Nannette Shaw (Tyereelore, Trawoolway, Bunurong), Kim Wandin (Wurundjeri), Arika Waulu (Gunditjmara, Djapwurrung, Gunnai), Rhiannon Williams (Wakaman, Waradjuri), and the Djirri Djirri Wurundjeri Women’s Dance Group (Wurundjeri, Dja Dja Wurrung, Ngurai Illum-Wurrung) together with works by William Barak (Wurundjeri), Timothy Korkanoon (Wurundjeri), Granny Jemima Burns Wandin Dunolly (Wurundjeri), Joyce Moate (Taungurung), Rosie Tang nee Egan (Wemba Wemba, Gunditjmara), Letty Nicholls (Ngarrindjeri), and a selection of ancestral personal tools and adornments from the south east Australian region.

Rhall’s recent exhibitions include solo shows Big Pharmakon, West Space, 2021; Defunctionalised Autonomous Objects, Substation, 2018; and We Specializes in Authentic Aboriginal Art, Footscray Community Arts Centre, Melbourne, 2015 along with group shows Octoroon, Ateneo Gallery, Philippines, 2016; and Sovereignty at the Australia Centre of Contemporary Art, Melbourne in 2016–17. Rhall has also worked collaboratively with Siying Zhou on Feeling Invisible Without the Lamb exhibited at both Counihan Gallery, Melbourne, and as part of the 2015 Channels Australian Video Art Festival. In 2016, Rhall also participated in the Biennial Lab creating the work Gesture (70 degrees East), New Day Rising commissioned by Public Art Melbourne. Rhall’s work is held in various collections including the National Gallery of Victoria, the City of Melbourne and Ateneo de Manila, Philippines.


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