Details have just been released of the Symposium which will bring to an end the important ‘Songlines : Tracking the Seven Sisters’ exhibition at the National Museum in Canberra. Here’s Chief Curator, Margo Neale, to explain:

Just letting you know about a symposium or yarn-up entitled ˜Living Songlines’– at the National Museum Australia, Friday 23 February. Due to its wide acclaim as a pioneering exhibition, there has been considerable pressure to run a one-day autopsy on its impact and legacy, thus this late notice.

“On Thursday 22nd the day before, there is an afternoon of exhibition offerings such as a curatorial tour (limited numbers), audio journey and/or self-tour. Given that the exhibition and all it represents is the case study for the symposium, some focused viewing is considered necessary and beneficial to maximise the listening and participation. Furthermore the exhibition closes only days later (28 Feb), so it is opportune for a last and/or maybe the first exhibition experience for you.

“I am aiming for depth rather than breadth in the short time we have, so we will be unpacking the exhibition, its genesis and development, but mainly its reception in relation to future-proofing the ˜songlines in action’ through technology, art, story retelling and literature, followed by a Q&A.

“My curatorial mantra is that the quality and character of an exhibition is determined by the quality and character of the journey that precedes it. This also goes for the journey that follows the exhibition, thus the emphasis on impact and legacy for future directions. The exhibition is only a staging post on this journey and not a destination, so the Seven Sisters Songlines exhibition will continue not only as a touring show, nationally and internationally, but as a research project that continues to track the songlines across the country (and overseas). This idea has already been proactively pursued by custodians from the lands at the exhibition opening who set about joining up the ones in the exhibition with the custodians from the three different deserts who were here”.

Here’s the program for Friday 23rd February:
Welcome to Country and introduction
Mathew Trinca, Director, National Museum of Australia on the significance of Songlines and the way the National Museum tells history.
Margo Neale, Senior Indigenous Curator, Songlines exhibition, Principal Indigenous Advisor to the National Museum, on the genesis of the Songlines exhibition, its development and its relationship to future-proofing songlines.
Re-telling story case studies
Songlines tell the foundational story of Australia’s First Peoples but how do they work on country over time? How do you overcome the challenges of transfer of knowledge across generations? How can adaptive storytelling, animation and other visual mediums keep the stories alive?
Kim Mahood, artist and author of Craft for a Dry Lake and Position Doubtful 
Scott Cane, anthropologist, archaeologist and author of First Footprints
John Bradley, Deputy Director, Monash Indigenous Studies Centre and author of Singing Saltwater Country
Future-proofing: Through technology
˜Telling the oldest stories with the newest technology …’ Curtis Taylor
How do songlines work virtually through digital storytelling? Is it possible to digitise the Dreaming and what does that mean?
Curtis Taylor, Martu filmmaker involved in Collisions VR film
Lynette Wallworth, filmmaker and Emmy award-winning director of Collisions
Cornel Ozies, independent Sydney-based Kimberley filmmaker and director of the short film, ˜Footprints
Sarah Kenderdine, world leader in embodied museography and Dome media, from the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (via Skype)
Impact and legacy: Through literature
˜Songlines are storytelling ¦’ Lizzie Ellis
An exploration of the relationship between the ancient stories of many cultures and Indigenous storytelling and the potential for future-proofing songlines in these approaches. How do Indigenous modes of storytelling resonate with the forms and structures of non-Indigenous narrative styles. For example what role did Arrente songlines play in the work of Ted Strehlow and the surrealists? Are there resonances in the writings of Salman Rushdie who accompanied Bruce Chatwin on his songlines journey in the desert in 1987 and what comparisons can be made with stream-of-consciousness narratives?
Jen Webb, Director, Creative and Cultural Research, University of Canberra
Lisa Fuller, Indigenous publisher, writer and David Unaipon Award winner, 2017
Paul Collis, Indigenous academic, author of Dancing Home and David Unaipon Award winner
Future-proofing: Through art
How can art be used to preserve the legacy of Songlines, examining the changing relationships between how communities work with museums, rather than how museums work with communities. Future exhibitions, new frameworks for understanding songlines and Dreamings and art as history and other narrative forms will be explored.
Ian McLean, Hugh Ramsay Chair of Australian Art History, University of Melbourne
Una Rey, artist, independent curator, arts writer and academic
Matt Poll, Curator, Indigenous Heritage and Repatriation Project, Macleay Museum
Paola Balla, curator, artist and Moondani Balluk Indigenous Academic Unit researcher, Victoria University
Lisa Slade, Assistant Director, Artistic Programs, Art Gallery of South Australia
A ˜yarn-up’ panel discussion with audience participation in conversation
Summary and conclusion
With Margo Neale, Senior Curator, Songlines