Parrtjima, a one of a kind light festival in Australia, is going to be held for the second year. The festival lasts for ten days, from September 22 to October 1, and is free to the public. It’s purpose is to honor the art and culture of Arrernte, representing Central Australia.
Large-scale light works are set up and lit each night, and one of the most impressive is the illumination of the MacDonnell ranges. The work is titled: The Heartbeat of Elements of Country (Apmere Ahelhe Itethe [All Country is Alive])
The range is 300 million years old and the lights stretch for several miles. One of the light shows above the ranges lasts for multiple minutes and features original audio recordings of Arrernte people.
“Parrtjima shows people that the country is alive, so that visitors and all the non-Arrernte people who live here can have deeper respect for it, and start to see how much it means to us,” says significant traditional owner (Apmereke-artweye of Mparntwe) and festival participant Benedict Kngwarraye Stevens.
“We want people to understand that it has always been a part of us. Parrtjima helps our young people stand tall in front of the world to say, ‘This is our country, this is our art, and this is our culture — and it is good’.”
The Alice Springs Desert Park features the remaining light shows of the festival. One showcase that was in the festival last year is called Grounded (Apmere Melangke [There’s No Place Like Home]), and features projections on the ground. The showcase was completed by various artists from Arrernte and Ikuntji.
A new piece called Medicine Space (Awelya-akerte Apmere [Medicine Country]) is a light and sound installation.
“The most important thing for us is to keep passing on our culture to the coming generations. Parrtjima helps us show the world that this is Arrernte country and how beautiful it is,” says Kngwarraye Stevens.
The festival brings out a positive light (literally), to Australian culture, that has for so long experienced complications with its history.