Kaylene Whiskey is a Yankunytjatjara artist widely known for her portrayal of strong kungkas (women in Pitjantjatjara) in her paintings and videos, where they often mingle with global pop icons such as Tina Turner, Dolly Parton, and Cher, while being equally comfortable with superheroes such as Wonder Woman, and the occasional Christian figure. Her short video Ngura Pukulpa – Happy Place offers an extensive view of Whiskey’s Country, which she reigns through ancestral connections as well as her camp fabulousness. Flying above the vast expanses, at times accompanied by figures born out of her brush and canvas, she dances with this party crew, erupting in joyous pageantry and celebration, and crossing between the borders of country and fantasy. Animals, spirits, stars, and pop stars all celebrate Whiskey, pointing to the complex landscapes of contemporary First Nations narratives. They hail her as an icon, a diva, and a model of strength and power for women of many worlds who weren’t always the centre and the voice of the story. Fun is thus elevated as the highest form of political affirmation of presence and vibrancy by the artist and her community.

Work in the exhibition: Ngura Pukulpa – Happy Place (2021), video, 8' 07". Courtesy of the artist