Monday, March 26, 2012


A few years back, I travelled with T around a large number of different communities in Aboriginal Australia filming for the Black Arm Band show 'dirtsong' which has, up to now, only ever played in Melbourne for two nights. I might have mentioned this before, but it is one of the things I am most proud of, due primarily to the intimacy with which we worked, the resulting immensity of the images, and the importance of the show and the songs themselves. During the live performance, about 70 minutes of film - a kind of lyrical accompaniment to the many different songs that were written in 13 different indigenous languages - played in inky black and white on a vast 16m x 9m screen. I've never seen images I've taken or been part of capturing projected so large. It is immensely strange that the larger the image, the greater the sense of intimacy you feel when watching them. (So much is lost with the shrinking of the cinematic experience - but that is another post for another day...)

So, the point of this blog post is a little bit of self indulgence - like all blog posts - but also, for once, information; this weekend, to close the Message Sticks festival in Sydney, dirtsong will be staged once more, two years after its inception. Many of the original artists have moved on, one has passed away, but many will perform the songs that they wrote for the original show and I imagine that the songs will be just as spine tingling now as they were then. It's a beautiful thing for your work to be able to accompany something that feels so special... I imagine it will feel like an honour for a very long time. While the films - which act as a kind of conversation and mediation between the singers and songs and the lands and cultures from which the songs emerge - don't really work without the songs, below are some stills from the screen grabs. The images we took were often vast landscapes, sometimes intense moments of connection between an individual and the camera, sometimes intimate moments observed in community, or tableaux staged for the camera. We got to film some incredible things in places I had never imagined I would be able to go but like all filmmaking, all image-making, I now feel like there is a thread leading me back to where the images were taken...

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