BREATH OF LIFE / Balambala

This immersive project was developed for the exhibition BREATH OF LIFE by The Mulka Project, an artists’ collective from Yirrkala, whose mission is to preserve and protect Yolŋu cultural knowledge in Northeast Arnhem Land under the leadership of community elders. The Mulka production house, recording studio, digital learning centre and cultural archive are managed by Yolŋu law and governance.

In collaboration with Bulthirrirri Wunuŋmurra (born 1981), The Mulka Project seeks to bring together traditional art forms and cutting-edge digital technologies giving shape to the Mokuy spirits as they enter Balambala. Central to the installation are contemporary wood carvings, Wunuŋmurra’s interpretation of the spirit figures, while carved renditions by her late father Nawurapu Wunuŋmurra (1952-2018) guard the edges of an 8-meter diameter circular screen featuring dance movements of the Mokuy to the rhythm of their instruments. 

Mokuy are spirits symbolically associated with the spirits of the deceased. Balambala, an inland site near Gängän, is the sacred ground where Mokuy come together. There they call out to each other on their dhadalal, a sacred kind of yidaki or didgeridoo, in all directions to relay the news of a death. 

Georges Petitjean

"The Mokuy or nanuk (spirits) come in together, Dhuwa and Yirritja, to the sacred ground called Balambala, past Gängän, for all the Mokuy to gather. The spirits go there and make the yidaki sound. (…) The Yirritja and Dhuwa play yidaki to summon the Mokuy to Balambala. The Yirritja Mokuy come on the birds, djilawurr (scrub fowl) and bugutj bugutj (banded fruit dove). The Dhuwa Mokuy come from rangi (saltwater) side."

Nawurapu Wunuŋmurra

Photo: VP_ExpositionBoL_c_YorickChassigneux

Km: 11920

Venue: Fondation Opale

Address : Route de Crans 11978

City : Lens



The Mulka Project (AUS)


John Carty (AUS)

Georges Petitjean (BEL)



From 2021/06/13

To 2022/03/17