The Inside World
Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Memorial Poles from the Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection
Saturday, July 11, 2020 — Sunday, January 10, 2021
Nevada Museum of Art
Virtual Exhibition Opening | Saturday, July 11 from 5-6pm
The Inside World: Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Memorial Poles from the Debra and Dennis Scholl Collection presents approximately 100 works by contemporary Aboriginal artists. The artists included in the exhibition come from Arnhem Land, a historical region in the Northern Territory of Australia.
These poles traditionally served as hollow log coffins, marking the final point in Aboriginal mortuary rites. Known by different regional names, including lorrkkon in the west and larrakitj in the east, the poles signified the moment when the spirit of the deceased had finally returned home—when they had left all vestiges of the mundane “outside” world and become one with the “inside” world of the ancestral realm.
Today, Aboriginal artists create these hollow log coffins as works of art. John Mawurndjul, who was recently honored with a retrospective at the Museum Tinguely in Basel, observes: “The old ways of doing things have changed into the new ways. The new generation does things differently. But me, I have two ways. I am the old and the new.” While Mawurndjul and other Aboriginal artists featured here have achieved prominence globally, their art remains firmly rooted in traditional customs and ancient narratives.
The Inside World, organized by the Nevada Museum of Art, draws from the collection of Miami-based collectors Debra and Dennis Scholl. The exhibition catalog, edited by Henry F. Skerritt, explores the complex histories of memorial poles in Australia.
Image caption: The Nevada Art Museum installation. Photography by Chris Holloman.