SAM songline exhibition
APY Lands traditional owners at SA Museum after the songline exhibition was postponed. Source: The Australian. Picture: Keryn Stevens.
Rebecca Puddy, APY battle over songline exhibition back in court, The Australian, 14 December 2015
A dispute over the right of an arts organisation to hold an exhibition and publish a book depicting an Aboriginal songline will continue in the South Australian Supreme Court today, amid claims the arts group used items that were not part of traditional culture, including a dance made up for tourists.
The battle between a small group of Aboriginal elders and Ananguku Arts and Culture Corporation erupted in March last year when senior men from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands objected to use of the songline outside their camps.
The men are seeking a permanent injunction against the display of materials included in the book, plus compensation and legal costs.
In documents lodged with the Supreme Court, the men claim the exhibition and book are misleading as they include dances, stories and paintings as part of the songline when some were not even part of traditional Aboriginal culture.
In one instance, the men argue the arts group incorrectly used a photograph to depict women performing a dance of the creation story.
“The women dancing are not performing a dance of the creation story,” their claim says, but a “dance created for tourists”.
The government-funded exhibition opened at the South Australian Museum in March last year, with more than 50 Anangu from the APY Lands attending the Adelaide opening night in support of the arts organisation.
The arts organisation has previously argued there were 25 regional and community meetings held since 2009 for the show, with approval first granted by the APY Council in 1996.