The Mulka Project


Wukun Waṉambi and Ishmael Marika

Yirrkala, Northern Territory, Australia

November 2-13, 2018

The Mulka Project is the pre-eminent Indigenous media unit in Australia. “Mulka” means a sacred but public ceremony, and, to hold or protect. At The Mulka Project, the rich and complex languages, histories and traditions of Yolŋu people, are collected by a skilled team of cultural advisors, film and recording crew including Wukun Waṉambi, Cultural Director, and Ishmael Marika, filmmaker. According to Waṉambi:

Begun in 2008 and based at Buku-Larrnggay Mulka Art Centre at Yirrkala in Northeast Arnhem Land, The Mulka Project is built on knowledge. It brings together old photographs, audio and video, so far gathering some 50,000 images, 4000 songs and 400 videos. It is for the future: for our children to see their grandparents and great-great- grandparents, so that our identity never dies. But this knowledge cannot be broken into parts – like a cake, cut into slices – it needs to be understood as a whole. That is our way … It is public, like a library, but not just for old things. It is also about capturing what is happening in the community today. So Mulka is always growing. It is about upgrading the vision and recording style. That is why we continue recording people. 

The Mulka Project has been actively involved with museums and universities including the British Museum, the National Museum of Australia and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. Their work is frequently included in major museum projects, as well as being shown on Australian national television. They are at the forefront of a vital contemporary movement among Indigenous people globally to take control of their representation through film, and new-media. Examples of Mulka Project videos can be found on the project website:

Wukun Waṉambi is also an acclaimed artist. His works are included in most significant Australian collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, as well as in the British Museum and the Musée de Lyon. His practice covers traditional mediums such as bark painting, through to print making and video installation. He is a two-time winner at the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. 

Ishmael Marika is an award winner Yolŋu filmmaker, musician and artist, whose installations have been exhibited in many of Australia’s most important museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney and the Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide. Marika has been awarded prizes at the National Indigenous Music Awards and the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards. 

During their visit to Charlottesville, they will meet with Mellon Indigenous Arts faculty fellows and engage with classes in art history, studio arts, music, anthropology and history. They will also conduct research on the extensive holdings of Yolŋu bark paintings held at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection for a major touring exhibition project, Maḏayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Bark Painting from Yirrkala being organized by the Kluge-Ruhe. The exhibition is a major undertaking and is being produced in direct collaboration with the artists of Yirrkala. A significant component of Maḏayin will be the inclusion of multi-media produced by The Mulka Project.

Yolngu Films at the Virginia Film Festival

Saturday, November 3

7:30pm | Jefferson School

Two short films by Ishmael Marika, Galka and Gapu Ga Gunda, with be screened before the feature Gurrumul. Fellows Ishmael Marika and Wukun Wanambi join Curator Henry Skerritt for a discussion after the screenings. Tickets can be purchased here