Miṯtji by Mr Wanambi - 2021 | Michael Reid Gallery

Mr Wanambi
Miṯtji, 2021

earth pigments on stringybark hollow pole
308 x 21 x 44 cm

catalogue number: 733-21

Miṯtji is a word which means a group (of people), family, tribe, mob, crowd.

One of the ways that it is used is in the context of a ceremony where different songlines converge carried in by different clans. Like schools of fish circling into the ceremony ground. The power behind these identities is autonomous owing nothing to the other groups who are driven by their own sacred forces.

It is quite surprising for an outsider to see a group of songmen with their affiliated clan members commence a song cycle only metres away from a different group who are already in full flight. Each group is oblivious to the other because they are not putting on a performance for the living audience bit channeling ancestral spirit which follows its own imperative.

Musically this is startling- sometimes cacophonous, sometimes sublime. Improbable counterpoint and avant-garde rhythms set themselves up and then disappear again as the synchronisation on evaporates.

The Marrakulu clan’s own songline describes themselves as schools of mullet swimming in to the ceremony. A miṯtji of ancestral spirits manifest as fish.


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