The epic Central Desert landscape is an inspiring playground for the rituals and ‘rites of passage’ for those animals and humans alike released from urban domesticity back into the wild.
Go Feral was an immersive live arts event, an exploration of the feral subculture and simultaneously the dominant feral species in central Australia. When art meets a real bush doof we Go feral! Think ritual, fire, DJ’s, performance, costumes, dance, music, animal prints, leather and lace, fur, beads, bones, face paint, feral humans dressed as feral animals.
We generated a real-life immersive experience, (a real Bush Doof), and the line between art and reality were blurred. We immersed ourselves in a feral subculture experience, an alternate universe on a remote red sand dune costumed and ready to explore. By creating experiential improvisational theatre for real it was a mind-blowing experience for all. We removed the traditional limitations on art, so art permeated reality and reality enveloped art. We allowed for a space for creativity to transform reality and then this experience was photographed, droned and filmed for The Visitors exhibition.
The Visitors is an artistic survey of the people, paths and stories woven through the sociological landscape of contemporary Central Australian culture. The art-making process engaged diverse sectors of the community in unique inimitable immersive art experiences. Each image is a distillation of poignant local imagery, harnessed to provide an artistic account of the impacts and influences on desert life, captured with all the gloss of a tourism advert.
‘There is a particular pressure to living in Central Australia when you add extreme weather, remoteness, and culture clash against a backdrop of, ancient and powerful landscapes. There is a push and pull element to “Alice” – not belonging (a visitor) yet emotionally and psychologically the landscape seems to take you into its vortex of timelessness’
The Visitors series is a distillation of poignant local imagery, harnessed to provide an artistic account of the impacts and influences on desert life, captured with all the gloss of a tourism advert.
The series is comprised of the following projects:
Partnering with Arid Lands Environment Centre and many community volunteers and documenters we generated a super-sized buffel weeding photo called ‘The Biggest Buffel Bust Ever’ as part of the Visitors project. More than 120 community members came out in the early hours of Father’s Day (Sunday 16 July 2017) to be part of a world-record-length buffel line photo shoot. A section of the hill had a huge tract of buffel removed by volunteers during four buffel busting prep sessions in the lead up to the photo shoot.
The long line of models dissected the escarpment like a search party, shoulder to shoulder, weeding into the endless horizon of a country overrun. The buffel weed invasion is so extensive now that the best we can do is keep some tracts of land cleared to preserve the native seed stock.
‘In The Biggest Buffel Bust Ever! the scale of the image allows the viewer to grasp the magnitude and complexity of the ecological change that we, collectively, have allowed to seize hold of the landscape. This is not just because the overall image is big but because it sets several scales in play with one another all at once.’
- Kieran Finnane | Alice Springs News
Buffel grass is making a fast-destructive march across Central Australian landscape, literally defacing the land of its complex flora species and changing the natural ecosystem forever. Introduced by pastoralists to feed stock, soil stabilisation and to keep the dust down it burns at a higher temperature than native species can tolerate, quickly colonizing the burnt-out areas and creating a mono cultural landscape. Although it has reached epic proportions it is not categorized as a weed so it is still legal for pastoralist to sow it for feed. The cattle prefer native grasses but there are no bulk native grasses available for pastoralist to buy.
“Let Me See” was a showcase of installation, performance art, music and dance based around the theme of Arts and Health. The show featured a traditional Akeyulerre smoking ceremony by the Akeyulerre Healing Centre ladies and presented works by five diverse artists inside the grounds of the Old Alice Springs Gaol.
Franca Barraclough Producer & Director | Red Hot Arts Central Australia Presenter | Margy Alexander, Kaye Pedersen, Hayley Michener, Katelnd Griffin, BB Sabina Presenting Artists
‘The layers of memory contained in the very structures of the gaol, the high walls topped by rolls of wire, the cells, the bars, the tiny spy-holes in the long corridors, even the grassed quadrangle, were doing some of the work for them. A high point of each of the five pieces presented to the audience in staggered groups of 20, moving from one to the next, was the way in which the performance used the gaol – its physical space and its weighty ambiance.’
- Kieran Finnane | Alice Springs News
‘Tennis Mum in Gondwana’ is an exploration of the breach between contemporary western society and nature. I have displaced an iconic urban stereotype in the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia to illuminate the contrast between our identity and our natural environment. The gap in time between our modern lives and the ageless Gondwana rainforest of 100 million years ago is abruptly closed. The mists of time at once seem to reconcile these disparate forces (mother nature and a modern mother) yet shroud the scene with the impenetrable beautiful mysteries of the natural world.
2018 Alice Prize Finalist (Photography), Araluen Gallery, AS.
Location Eagle’s Nest Walking Track New England National Park | Christian Barraclough Model
Undaunted by extreme weather, vast distances and flat tyres, the Princess Warrior is ever ‘remote ready’. Drawn by the dramatic beauty and the challenges of remote work, she is soon ‘grown up’, culturally (and generously), by awe-inspiring Aboriginal women. It's demanding and harsh but she keeps coming back for more. If she's lucky, one of those old ladies might sing her a husband (or someone special)!
This worked is inspired by real life ‘Princess Warriors’ I have met along the desert track!
Anna Cadden Photographer | Melanie Fiedler, Nikita Noonan, Frankie Snowdon, Alera Foster, Teresa McCarthy, Anders Pfeiffer Models | Permissions granted through Permits Officer and Anthropology Admin, Central Land Council
Nature, nature, I am your bride. Take me; I’m yours!!
Do you feel most at home in the wilderness and estranged when you’re apart? Is pure romance watching mist rise from a bushland scene or camping under the starry sky? Perhaps nature is your lover not your mother. Are you ready to take the next step of commitment.
In an age where humankind is literally waging war against the earth, this marriage ceremony will re-address the balance by pledging our union with the planet. This dance-based ritual will support and celebrate your connection with nature and affirm your commitment to love and protect.
Warning: This is not a pretty white garden wedding! Be prepared to face the cycle of life and death, to surrender unto the spiral of existence, to ride the wild waves of change as you embrace nature’s exquisite beauty.
Presented by: The ‘Ritualisers’
The ‘Ritualisers’ are a dynamic and ever changing collective of artists led by Franca Barraclough generating rituals to mark important events, stages of life and rites of passage in order to enrich and give meaning to our lives.
Experiences of the wilderness are generally associated with very clear of timelines of holidays (allocated and partitioned time for the experience) and physical boundaries of protection (campervans, tents and equipment) then we return to our normal lifestyles supported by complex systems and infrastructures. What is it like to live in the natural environment permanently? Margaret Scobie an her family to build a traditional shelter as a way of exploring this idea.
Mick Walters Photographer | David Nixon Aerial photographer | Margaret Scobie, Jacinta Hayes & Wayne Scrutton Cultural consultants & Humpy construction | Permissions: Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation; Crown Land Estate; Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics; Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority
Colonial setters to Central Australia have imported an enormous infrastructure of stuff to maintain a certain domestic lifestyle in a desert environment where once life had a simplicity without waste and was lived close to the earth and nature. By placing these European domestic items directly on the earth this work seeks to emphasise the cultural contrasts between settler-colonial and traditional First Nations peoples’ way of living in this environment. This work seeks to emphasis the interconnectedness of two seemingly disparate worlds by arranging the man-made items in golden spiral patterns from nature.
This work was supported and presented as part of Alice Springs artist-run gallery,Watch This Space's 25th Anniversary program.
Permissions granted by Lhere Artepe Aboriginal Corporation; Crown Land Estate; Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics; Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority