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Yilpinji, Love, Magic and Ceremony is an exhibition of fine art prints by senior Aboriginal artists from Balgo Hills, Yuendumu and Lajamanu, that explores the powerful traditions of love magic rituals amongst the Kukatja and Warlpiri peoples of the Tanami Desert region.
These love magic rituals and ceremonies, involve the singing of secret love songs, the painting of special designs onto their bodies and the production of ‘love objects’ to perform these ceremonies.
Called ‘Yilpinji’ in the Warlpiri language, these ceremonies are enacted separately by men and women as a means of attracting the object of their sometimes adulterous or otherwise forbidden desire. Many Dreaming narratives and associated ceremonies make powerful statements about the consequences of illicit or illegal love – love that is, that offends the strict rules of their kinship structures.
Paintings of Yilpinji not only relate to moral and ethical behaviour and the transgressions that occur but they are attached to specific tracts of land. Yilpinji stories and paintings provide guidance about how people should relate to, and interrelate with, one another and with the natural world.
In addition, love magic spells and songs relate to many ‘different’ Dreamings. They include stories about objects which ‘hold’ love magic and powerful love singers, as well as tales about faithfulness in relationships and the virtues of nurturing and respecting the object of one’s love and desire.The prints in this exhibition and the stories that accompany them can be understood as concentrated, abbreviated versions of these much longer epic, and living, oral narratives.