Jenna Lee

The Flame Turns the Page

 Jenna Lee, The Flame Turns the Page 2022. Single channel digital video, 1 min 52 sec. Courtesy of the artist and MARS Gallery, Melbourne.


This work explores fire, love and time as processes of regenerative transformation enacted upon colonial-settler Aboriginal word list books. Long obsessed with the duality of the destructive and healing properties that fire can yield, this element has been applied to the paper in the form of burning—referencing the old cultural ways of using fire to maintain and heal.

The resulting ashes from this process were bottled and displayed as a part of the exhibition ‘Old Flame’ 2022 at MARS Gallery.

Jenna Lee is a Gulumerridjin (Larrakia), Wardaman and KarraJarri Saltwater woman with mixed Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Anglo-Australian ancestry. Using art to explore and celebrate her many overlapping identities, Lee works across sculpture, installation and body adornment. She also works with moving image, photography and projection in the digital medium. With a practice focused on materiality and ancestral material culture, Lee works with notions of the archive, histories of colonial collecting, and settler-colonial books and texts. Lee ritualistically analyses, deconstructs and reconstructs source material, language and books, transforming them into new forms of cultural beauty and pride, and presenting a tangibly translated book. Driven to create work in which she, her family, and the broader mixed First Nations community see themselves represented, Lee builds on a foundation of her father’s teachings of culture and her mother’s teachings of papercraft.

This exhibition is part of the 6 month program curated by Jenna Warwick (Luritja) for this mob, entitled 'Public Notice'.