Neo Deadly Halloween centres around transformation in Indigenous culture and Halloween

Halloween meets Indigenous culture this weekend at the Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA) when Neo Deadly Halloween kicks off for another year.

Run by youth organisation Neo, Neo Deadly Halloween is an event run during Tarnanthi festival for kids aged between 13 and 17.

This year, Neo has collaborated with Pitjantjatjara and Yankunytjatjara artist Elizabeth Close who is Guest Curator for the entire event.

Ms Close said the event is “highly responsive” to the Tarnanthi exhibition on display at the gallery and that her duties as Guest Curator included creating the program of guest artists, workshops, performances and musicians.

“[It’s] an interesting juxtaposition as there isn’t really a lot of … links between Halloween and Aboriginal art … so I took the element of transformation from Halloween and the costuming … and then curated the event and the artists and workshops around that concept of transformation,” Ms Close said.

Boasting workshops that show kids how to make costumes from recycled materials, do special effects makeup and create digital murals, this year’s Neo Deadly Halloween centres around ideas of transformation and identity.

“[I’ve been] programming an event around the concept of transformation, responding to the Tarnanthi exhibition, but also then highlighting and giving voice to … artists of colour, Aboriginal artists, artists who are in the LGBTIQ+ community,” Ms Close said.

The Guest Curator herself will be running the digital mural workshop, which involves showing event attendees the process artists go through to create large scale murals and artworks.

“A lot of my work is large scale work with paint, like murals, but I wanted to be able to deliver a workshop that really took an aspect of my [work] and one of the key aspects of it is scale,” Ms Close said.

“Giving kids the opportunity to use iPads … to digitally create a mural and then project it up onto the wall.”

Ms Close said the workshop will give young people an insight into the creative process she goes through when creating large scale works, showing that all of the artistic, detailed work happens on a small scale first.

“It gives teens an opportunity to get a bit of a taste of that process and also get an instant result … on a large scale.”

Describing the event space, the Guest Curator said it is very interesting and dynamic as the event will take place both outside and inside.

“I’m particularly excited about the downstairs area. Where you first go in it’s like your first taste of Tarnanthi 2019 and it’s just the most incredible movement in that space,” Ms Close said.

Adelaide women’s dance group Of Desert and Sea will be performing in the downstairs space surrounded by the artworks of Tarnanthi 2019.

“There’s this beautiful etching artwork … directly as you come down, but then as you turn around to your left there’s an entire wall of magenta Yolngu bark paintings that are just really powerful [and] feminine.”

The artworks Ms Close spoke about are Yolngu bark paintings by artist Nongirrna Marawilli and a steel etching by Gunybi Ganambarr.

Ms Close said she herself is excited for the performance by Drag King Sir Linksi and that she’s keen to see the “fantastic emerging musicians and performers.”

“I don’t think I can name just one … the whole event is really dynamic and exciting.”

Neo Deadly Halloween is on at AGSA Saturday October 26 from 6.00pm to 8.30pm. For more information, visit:

By Hannah Cross

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