Panel Yarn – Language as Resistance with Mayunkiki

Panel Yarn – Language as Resistance with Mayunkiki
20 March 2024, 6:30pm
Event Information

Join us for an evening panel discussion on Language as Resistance, where we delve into the profound intersections of language, Indigenous knowledge systems, and activism in art. Our panelists will offer unique insights into the power of language, identity, and cultural preservation in the face of historical oppression and contemporary challenges.

We welcome lead panelist; our International Artist in Residence, Mayunkiki. As an Ainu artist, Mayunkiki grapples with the nuances of language and identity. Despite growing up with Japanese as her first language, she reflects on the implications of Ainu not being her native tongue, a consequence of historical pressures.

In a world where English dominates, Mayunkiki challenges this norm by consciously choosing not to use English in her art, viewing it as an act of resistance against colonial legacies. Instead, she collaborates with translator, Kanoko Tamura to navigate linguistic barriers and amplify the voices less heard.

Their partnership embodies language as a tool for empowerment and cultural preservation, advocating for recognition of diverse linguistic expressions in the global art scene.

Explore these themes and more in an engaging panel discussion that promises to inspire conversations about the transformative power of language and cultural activism in art.


Mayunkiki, an Ainu artist from Japan, challenges the dominance of English in the art world, seeing it as a relic of colonial history.

Yoolongteeyt Vicki Couzens, a Gunditjmara woman, leads in cultural revitalisation across creative expressions, from language to visual arts.

Kanoko Tamura, an Art Translator, explores the nuances of communication across cultures and languages.

Allara Briggs Pattison, a Yorta Yorta artist, weaves healing textures through music, addressing themes of Blak justice and sovereignty.

Leah Avene, a Tuvaluan-Irish psychotherapist and researcher, shares her personal journey of reconnecting with her Tuvaluan language.

Join Mayunkiki for another workshop exploring the language, songs, and dances revered by the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan’s northern islands. Reserve your spot here: A Night with Mayunkiki
Date: 27 March 2024, 6pm

Date & Times

20 March 2024, 6:30pm

Footscray Community Arts



All internal venues are wheelchair accessible. If you have any access needs, we have a range of audio assistance available. Please call or email us if we can help plan your journey.

Phone: 03 9362 8888
Email: reception@footscrayarts.com

Contact reception via email for First Nations tickets or if you are experiencing financial hardship.

Meet the Artists
  • Mayunkiki

    Born in 1982 in Asahikawa, on the island of Hokkaidō in Japan, Mayunkiki’s practice arises from her identity as an Ainu musician and artist. She is a member of Marewrew, a vocal group whose activities center around the rebirth and passing on of the traditional Ainu song Upopo – a practice rooted in rhythmic patterns and the signature style of singing in a trance-like chorus. She has recently undertaken research on Sinuye, or traditional Ainu tattoos, conducting interviews and collecting oral histories. Sinuye histories and memories are explored through talking and reperforming the action of tattooing on the face using paint.

    She has been presenting her projects at various exhibitions such as: “Siknure – Let me live”, solo show at Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2022),  “SIKNU”, Reborn-Art Festival 2021-22, Ishinomaki, Japan (2021), “SINRIT teoro wano ainu menoko sinrici an=hunara”, solo show at CAI03, Sapporo, Japan (2021), “Sinuye – Ainu Women and her tatoo”, two-person show with Hiroshi Ikeda, Tobiu Art Festival 2020 (2020), and 22nd Biennale of Sydney, NIRIN (2020).

    She also participates in several creative projects related to Ainu culture as an adviser or singer, and works as an Ainu language teacher.


    1982年生まれ。北海道出身・在住。アイヌの伝統歌を歌う「マレウレウ」「アペトゥンペ」のメンバー。2021年よりソロ活動開始。音楽分野だけでなく国内外のアートフェスティバルに参加。アイヌ語講師、札幌国際芸術祭(SIAF)2017バンドメンバー(企画チーム)、SIAF 2020ではアイヌ文化コーディネーターをつとめる。2018年より、自身のルーツと美意識に纏わる興味・関心からアイヌの伝統的な文身「シヌイェ」の研究を開始。現代におけるアイヌの存在を、あくまで個人としての観点から探求し、表現している。2020年には、第22回シドニー・ビエンナーレ「NIRIN」に参加。同年、写真家の池田宏と「シヌイェ アイヌ女性の入墨を巡るプロジェクト」(北海道・白老)、2021年「シンリッ アイヌ女性のルーツを探る出発展」(北海道・札幌、CAI03)、2022年「Siknure – Let me live」(イギリス・バーミンガム、Ikon gallery)を開催。

  • Vicki Couzens
    Vicki Couzens

    Yoolongteeyt Vicki Couzens is a Gunditjmara woman from the Western Districts of Victoria, Australia. Vicki acknowledges her Ancestors and Elders who guide her work.

    She has worked in Aboriginal community affairs for almost 45 years.

    Vicki’s contributions in the reclamation, regeneration and revitalisation of cultural knowledge and practice extend across the ‘arts and creative cultural expression’ spectrum including language revitalisation, ceremony, community arts, public art, visual and performing arts, and writing.

    She is Senior Knowledge Custodian for Possum Skin Cloak Story and Language Reclamation and Revival in her Keerray Woorroong Mother Tongue.

    Vicki is employed at RMIT University as a Research Fellow developing her Project ‘watnanda koong meerreeng , tyama-ngan malayeetoo (together body and country, we know long time)’ The key objective of this Project is to produce model/s, pathways and resources for continuing the reinvigoration of Aboriginal Ways of Knowing Being and Doing with a special focus on language revitalisation. The Project investigates and examines how revitalisation of cultural knowledges and practices affect healing in Aboriginal individuals, families and communities and builds resilience and capability towards sovereign nation building aspirations, opportunities and a realised living legacy.

    Vicki is rebuilding the Gunditjmara Grammar to facilitate a new phase of language learning through immersive experiences and home based, family clan self-directed learning.

  • Kanoko Tamura
    Kanoko Tamura

    Art Translator.

    Director of Art Translators Collective. As an Art Translator, Kanoko conducts translation, interpreting, and communication design. While exploring the possibilities of translation from the perspective of a mediator standing between people, cultures, and languages, she proposes creative ways to hold a dialogue in a given occasion. Kanoko has been teaching English and communication for young artists at Global Art Practice MFA program, Tokyo University of the Arts. She also worked as Director of Communication Design for Sapporo International Art Festival 2020 to mediate between the festival and the audience. She is a member of Arts Commons Tokyo.

  • Allara Briggs Pattison
    Allara Briggs Pattison

    Allara is a powerful Yorta Yorta winyarr. She is a storyteller, composer, director, producer, musician and soundscape designer. With humour and integrity, Allara uses the double-bass and sound samples from Country to weave textures for healing in her work “I am Sovereign, I am Free”. Allara‘s innovative music speaks to Blak justice and sovereignty. Allara was the recipient of the Archie Roach Foundation Award for Emerging Talent (Music Victoria Awards 2021) and is a founding member of Ensemble Dutala. Allara is driven by collaboration and improvisation, inspired to bring language and cultural practice to the forefront of her work. Mentored by matriarchal Songwomen; her Djetja, Dr Lou Bennett AM, Deborah Cheetham AO and anganya Nancy Bates, Allara has become an unstoppable force for love, art, music and transformation, empowered by her yakapna (family) and her Ancestors, dhama yenbena (old people).


This is a past event