The exhibition Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters tells one of the central creation stories (songlines) of the Australian continent. Songlines are cultural routes that traverse all of Australia. Through story, song and visual culture like ceremonial performance or rock art, songlines map the routes and activities of the Ancestral beings, whose travels created the land. The Seven Sisters songlines tell the saga of seven women who cleverly and cunningly elude a male pursuer with magical powers as they flee across three deserts.
The exhibition shows how the sisters’ travels are imprinted in features of the land and reflected in the night sky, as the transit of Orion and the Pleiades star cluster. The Seven Sisters songlines transmit important protocols of behavior, map Indigenous Australians’ right to their land as well as the responsibility to care for this land. Songlines carry knowledge that is critical for survival in a volatile and unpredictable desert environment, such as the location of food sources and water holes.
The exhibition is based on a unique, ten-year research and preservation project, initiated and led by representatives of Indigenous communities from the Central and Western Deserts in partnership with the National Museum of Australia and the Australian National University. Songlines was collaboratively curated by Margo Neale, Senior Indigenous Curator of the National Museum, and an Indigenous Curatorium, whose members were nominated by their communities.
In over 300 paintings and objects, six large installations, numerous films, photographs and multimedia stations, the story of the Seven Sisters comes alive. Visitors are welcomed by the „Virtual Elders,“ life-size videos of members the Indigenous Curatorium from Martu Country, the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands and the Ngaanyatjarra Lands.
One of the exhibition’s highlights is a six-metre-high and wide multimedia dome, inviting the visitors on a cinematic and immersive journey to important Seven Sisters sites. Here, up to 30 travellers, sitting up or lying down, are virtually transported to Walinynga (Cave Hill) and experience a 360-degree vision of this rare Seven Sisters rock art site. Inside the dome, the visitors will also encounter the Seven Sisters as digital animations of the expressive Tjanpi (grass) figures, created for the exhibition by artists of the Tjanpi Desert Weavers.
A series of events and an educational program, developed together with representatives of the National Museum of Australia, expand and deepen the exhibition experience. In a dialogue-based audio tour, the Seven Sisters address the visitors directly, inviting them to join their journey along the songlines.
From 17 to 20 June, representatives of the Aboriginal Curatorium and artists from the exhibition will be guests at the Humboldt Forum and will engage in conversation with visitors. They will provide personal insight into various aspects of the exhibition and their work. Please ask our visitor service staff for the exact locations of the interventions within the exhibition at the following times.
17 June 2022 – 4 pm-6 pm
18 June 2022 – 4 pm-6 pm
19 June 2022 – 4 pm-6 pm
20 June 2022 – 11 am-1 pm and 4 pm-6 pm
Originally shown at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra in 2017 the exhibition travelled to Perth (Australia) and Plymouth (UK). In Berlin, Songlines is presented by the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss in partnership with the Ethnologisches Museum – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. From Berlin, the exhibition will continue its journey to the Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac in Paris in 2023.