Julia MAGE’AU GRAY / Papua New Guinea/Australia b.1973 / Mekeo people, Central Province / Best foot forward 2011 / Single-channel HD video: 2:26 minutes, looped, colour, sound / Purchased 2015. Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery / © The artist

Julia Mage’au Gray
Best foot forward 2011

Not Currently on Display

Best foot forward 2011 was part of the Sunameke performance group’s piece Who born you? It explored the dancers’ connection to their Papuan mothers and grandmothers and involved film, original music and movement drawn from all over the Pacific. With Best foot forward, the artists wanted to talk about how they need to be able to survive in two different worlds.

‘When you live in Australia, you could easily just forget about Papua New Guinea — not worry about your actions or how you behave — but we can’t, because we have family who we are connected to. You’ve got your grass skirt and your heels and you are constantly trying to make the balance, because you can’t have one without the other.’

Julia Mage’au Gray is a dancer, choreographer, tattooist, photographer and filmmaker, who explores her Papuan and, specifically, Mekeo heritage in an urban context. Central to her practice is her reflection that dance and art are not separate concepts in her Papuan culture. Gray’s production company Sunameke brings together Pacific Island artists based in Australia and New Zealand to engage in performances, workshops and research projects.

Dress or adornment, including the marking of the body with tatu (tattoo), is of particular significance in Julia Mage’au Gray’s performances and films. When Mekeo women dance they wear skirts made from sago fibre like the skirt that the artist’s sister Yolanda is wearing in Best foot forward.