From left to right:
Karrabing Film Collective, ‘Weather Reports’, 2021. Grafite, paper, watercolour pastel, acrylic, prints. Commissioned for Rethinking Nature. Courtesy of the artists.
Karrabing Film Collective, ‘Same same, separate separate’, 2020. Video, 6’23”. Courtesy Karrabing Film Collective
Karrabing Film Collective, ‘Beds Are Burning (Songs For Australia)’, 2020. Video, 3’46”. Courtesy of Julia Stone.
Elizabeth Povinelli, ‘Petroleum Dreaming, A Montage’, 2014. Video, 5’16”. Courtesy of Elizabeth Povinelli.
Karrabing Film Collective, ‘The Mermaids, Mirrorworlds’, 2018. Two-channel HD video, 26’27’’. Courtesy of the artists.
Photo Amedeo Benestante
The Mermaids, Mirrorworlds 2018
two-channel HD video, 26’27’’
Courtesy of the artists
Beds Are Burning (Songs For Australia) 2020
Courtesy di Julia Stone
The Karrabing Film Collective is an Indigenous media group who uses filmmaking to interrogate the conditions of inequality for Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory, Australia. ‘Low tide’ in the Emmiyengal language, karrabing refers to a form of collectivity outside of government-imposed strictures of clanship or land ownership. The group is constituted by an intergenerational mix of more than fifty members of the Belyuen community, together with critical theorist Elizabeth Povinelli, who has worked with the community since 1984. The Karrabing Film Collective invites viewers into the colliding worlds of humans and their more-than-human relatives and ancestors to take stock of the ongoing colonial invasion. The exhibit stretches across the (now) Italian Alps to the saltwater region of (now) the Top End of the Northern Territory – the various ancestral lands of Karrabing members. Weather Reports spans five centuries to evoke the dramatic upheavals of ecologies and cartographies as Europe asserts control over the meaning and destiny of territories, lands and peoples. Commencing with overlayed maps of Sebastian Münster (1488 – 1552), Dirk Hartog (1580 – 1621), John Stockdale (1749 – 1814), and Huang Yu Quan Tu (c. 1708-1718) and concluding with material, ecological, and social flows produced by the predictive technology of Big Data, Weather Reports shows a colonial eye that perfects its cartography as it ravages worlds. Mermaids, Mirror Worlds provides a powerful account of the alternative futures of industrial toxicity. On the left are multinational corporate accounts of techno-ecological capital digging ever more aggressively into the earth; on the right the story of a young Indigenous man, taken away as a baby to be a part of a medical experiment to save the white ‘race’ and then released into the ancestral world of his family. The Inheritance and Same same, separate separate discuss the history of dispossession from the point of view of Europe and Indigenous Australia. Petroleum Dreaming and Beds are Burning insist we look at the effects of the disregard of Indigenous knowledge. Across these multiple and colliding realities Karrabing asks you to consider how you are related to these histories of the present.
In Same same, separate separate members of Karrabing Film Collective explain how the Australian state’s ‘recognition’ of the rights of indigenous people to their lands from the time of the Land Rights Act of 1976 was based on reductive anthropological theories and a state-based land recognition system that divided indigenous groups through imposing land claims based on individual property. Karrabing members unite as one mob, while maintaining their clan identities with their respective histories and ancestors. Petroleum Dreaming, A Montage by Elizabeth Povinelli superimposes found footage of the South Coast Line in Australia, oil spills in Nigeria, and promotional materials of Eramet Industries and Shell Corporation. The title of the video simultaneously refers to the fantasies of multinational corporations and the concept of ‘the Dreaming’ or ‘Dreamtime’ pertaining to an ongoing Indigenous time of creation. Beds Are Burning is a video accompanying a cover by Julia Stone, a singer and songwriter who released a compilation album titled ‘Songs for Australia’ in 2020 to aid the bushfire relief operations that followed the intense fires that took place in many parts of Australia that same year. The lyrics of ‘Beds are burning’, a song originally released by the rock band Midnight Oil in 1987, were written by Karrabing members.
“That land is still keeping alive because family is still going back. That’s the whole idea of Karrabing. We stretch ourselves across all of our countries, so the Dreamings and the places know we’re still alive and we still look after our country.”
Linda Yarrowin, Member of Karrabing Film Collective, 2021