An artist (Vicki Couzens) wearing a white top and glasses standing under her installation, Yanmeeyarr
An artist (Vicki Couzens) wearing a white top and glasses standing under her installation, Yanmeeyarr
Credit: Michael Jalaru Torres
Stories & Ideas

Fri 26 Feb 2021

Vicki Couzens uses light and shadow to tell moving image stories

Art Australia Behind the scenes Craft Exhibition First Nations Meet the makers
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The Keerray Woorroong Gunditjmara artist's striking visual installation bookends our new centrepiece exhibition.

For thousands of generations in Australia, First Peoples have harnessed the movement of the world and play of light. Titled Yanmeeyarr (which means 'flickering in the firelight'), Vicki Couzens’ multi-part work references how ochre markings on the body capture and reflect light during ceremony, creating a centuries-spanning connection between traditional First Peoples storytelling and the contemporary moving image.


Vicki Couzens: So, a lot of the work I've been doing is in public spaces and therefore you have that opportunity to influence and create presence, spiritually and metaphorically and in those other ethereal ways. It's an assertion of sovereignty, and we're here and we'll always be here and don't you forget it.

My name is Vicki Couzens and I'm a Keerray Wooroong Gunditjmara woman from the western districts of Victoria.

The work that ACMI have commissioned is a multi-sensory installation and visual experience. The name of the work is Yanmeeyarr. and it means "flickering in the firelight". The whole work is about "where does moving image originate from" with shadows and light and it comprises a 300 kilo[gram] acrylic lens suspended from the ceiling with figures who were set out in a formation in corroboree and ceremony, giving people the opportunity to perhaps see the world through our lens.

The exit is a darkened wall and there'll be about 10 or 12 mirror finish in ceremony and dance, and they're telling the story through their movements and the markings on them; some of them are paint ups, some of them could be the armbands that people wear or the dance belts and also the body scarring.

Basically what you will see is the white markings were to be like the movement flickering in the fire light of Yanmeearr and the corroboree and the moving image.

Generously supported by

First Peoples and the moving image

See 'Yanmeeyarr' and other First Peoples moving image works in our new centrepiece exhibition