Gudirr Gudirr

You’ve hardly heard a peep from me in the last couple of weeks and I’ve got loads to do so I thought I better get started! There’s a few blogs in the works at the moment, so keep an eye out for them because they’ll be up soon.

Aaannyywayy, I wanted to catch you mob up on a couple of the shows that I saw in London. So while my tiddas were visiting Paris for a couple of days, I tracked my way across London on my own to see Marrugeku’s latest work Gudirr Gudirr…

The animals hear, the land knows. Listen. The language is dying. Young men are hanging themselves. Bulldozers clear our ancestor’s land and gas pipes will soon cut the sea where we fish. – Gudirr Gudirr

Dalisa Pigram curls her body, hooking her feet into a fishing net suspended metres above the stage. Her movement is fluid, powerful and arresting. Her physicality expresses the fusion of her Aboriginal, Asian and European heritage. Gudirr Gudirr is deeply rooted in identity and locality – Broome – the land, the culture and the community.

This intimate solo dance and video work by Marrugeku illuminates the struggles of a culture affected by colonisation, a land fractured by industrialisation and a community born out of this history.  Broome was exempt from the White Australia Policy due to the pearling industry; as a result, the community has a unique, rich and diverse cultural heritage. Gudirr Gudirr explores deeply personal and complex experiences of identity as well as the confusion and despair that continue to take the lives of too many young Aboriginal people in the Kimberleys.

The tide is turning on my community in many ways today, not only the urgency to keep language and culture alive but also with the rapid rate at which some of our young people are taking their own lives. – Dalisa Pigram

Dalisa conceived the work in consultation with her grandfather, Yawuru law-man Patrick Dodson. He told her to start with the little guwayi bird that call to warn the turning of the tide, and it is from this little bird that the work takes its name –  Gudirr Gudirr. Collaborating with famed international artist and choreographer Koen Augustignen (from Belgian dance company les ballets C de la B), and acclaimed visual artist Vernon Ah Kee, Gudirr Gudirr presents an astonishing visual score.

Dalisa is a Yawuru and Bardi woman from the Kimberley region. She is a founding member and Co-Artistic Director of Marrugeku and is a leading female dancer of the Australian stage. Her unique dance language embodies a distinctive voice from North Western Australia, which she draws on to capture this moment in time for her people.

Here’s the trailer to give you a proper sense of the show…

Gudirr Gudirr is an incredible and confronting dance work. It’ll be showing as part of Sydney Festival at Carriageworks from 16-19 January so I very much recommend you check it out! $30 tickets for community for any performance.

You can buy tickets here: http://www.sydneyfestival.org.au/2014/Theatre-and-Dance/Gudirr-Gudirr/

 

by Louana Sainsbury

Mesnak… To Be (Or Not To Be)?

20131029-172014.jpgLast night the tiddas and I went to the see the powerful First Nations Québécois film Mesnak. Frightening and familiar scenes, parallels with our own communities, and a pervasive post-colonial melancholia left us weeping.

The director, Yves Sioui Durand, grew up on the Huron-Wendat Wendake Reserve and spent many years in communities in Canada before co-writing and directing the film. Mesnak is the first feature to be released by an Indigenous director in Quebec, shot in Innu and French. Loosely based on the plot of Hamlet, Mesnak follows the story of Dave, a young urban Aboriginal man whose search for his mother reunites him with country but also with the painful secrets and confronting realities of his community and his past. To me Mesnak was more real and much more tragic than the narrative Shakespeare imagined.

I wanted to include an extract from the Origins Festival brochure in which Sioui-Durand talks about the film…

I had started to wonder back in 2002 what would become of Native Americans: the lies, political exclusion, corruption of principles and the ignorance of Aboriginal leaders with regard to the place that art occupies in the heart of any society. The movie became necessary through an exploration of origins, rejection, abandonment, and the reality of living a life which isn’t one’s own. Rediscovering one’s roots is also about recognising that your people have a common destiny.

I think that Aboriginals have Shakespearean destinies. They are larger than life and the issues they are faced with touch the whole community. “To be or not to be?” is the big question that every Aboriginal asks himself or herself at some point. When the world rejects you, should you stay true to yourself and at what price? On the other hand, family secrets and hidden truths are now part and parcel of an Aboriginal way of life that is swamped by collective alienation. Something is rotten in the State of Kinogamish! Here’s another big question: “Is love still possible in a world riddled with betrayal?” Like Hamlet, Dave is an idealist ruled by a love for justice. He is engaged in a search for identity. He has no choice but to find out where he comes from, to meet the mother who abandoned him, then to make peace with her and with himself. – Yves Sioui Durand

There are some pretty dark themes in the film and it includes nudity, sex scenes, violence and drug references. Not suitable for jarjums but an incredible and important film to see!!

See the trailer for the film here – http://vimeo.com/54813980

Nàngami

Dreams are said to be the voice of the unconscious.

The ‘Dreaming’ for our non Aboriginal readers and followers is a term used to describe the interconnectedness and complexities of Aboriginal spirituality, mythology and creation.

There is no distinguishment from creation to today.

The term is an English word attached with foreign connotations of what a dream is.

Dreams are studied extensively as an attempt to understand the human brain and psyche.

What do our dreams tell us that words can not?

An analogy for dreams can be seen as files that we tap into each night when we close our eyes to sleep, ultimately downloading knowledge from our ancestors.

What are we, the embodiment of the past, present and future downloading when we dream?

Language is important to any cultural identity and heavily influences the social interactions that people may or may not have. In Australia, the diverse Languages and dialects of the land are disappearing at a rate never before seen in the history of human evolution.

The language of the land embodies the law of the land.

In 1788 Lt William Dawes sailed to Australia with Captain Phillip (soon to be first Governor) and he took an interest in many things “native”. He was especially fond of the Sydney languages and had many interactions with a young woman from the newfound Sydney town.

He kept a two notebooks recording many conversations.

The notebooks are a key resource for the revitalisation of the Dharug language and are more than words on paper. They closely detail a relationship between Dawes and Patyegarang, a young Cadigal woman, by the documentation of their yarns which range from Patyegarang’s sleep deprivation to statements of resistance.

On Wednesday, the Tidda’s had the opportunity to hold Lt William Dawes notebooks and read from the same text the young Patygareng once held and may have even written in herself.

We met up with archivist Susannah Rayner and director, David Nathan from the Endangered Languages faculty who showed us their small collection of materials that delve into first contact stories including Dawes Notebooks . Click here to view Dawes Notebooks online

Thanks to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London, the Tiddas were given the time to hold the notes in our hands, to flick the pages, see the words, roll them out on our tongues and to reimagine the yarns between the first peoples and the invader, recorded more than 220 years ago.

After the overwhelming experience of the day before with “that shield” at the British Museum we were unsure of how we would react to the materials especially as they document the experiences of some of the Tidda’s ancestors and the mere fact that what happened in these places created a ripple effect of colonial oppression and cultural genocide in all of our communities.

The Tiddas discovered many things documented throughout Dawes Notebooks, more importantly they found many similarities between themselves and the young Patyegarang.

An excerpt from the notebooks display a level of defiance that is very much still evident today.

William Dawes had asked Patyegarang about a resistance that was forming, some say led by the first patriot to die defending his homelands, Pemulwuy. He had told her that a whiteman had been wounded some days ago in coming from Kadi (Sydney Cove) to Warang (the Rocks, Sydney) and asked her why the black men did it.

Patyegarang: Gūlara – (Because they are) angry.

Dawes: Minyan gūlara eóra? Why are the black men angry?

Patyegarang: Impám yaluri white man Because the white men are settled here.

Nàngami is to dream. This term is documented in Dawes notebook and the Tiddas wonder as to what dreams the Dharug mob were having during the initial stages of first contact?

Did that dream turn into a nightmare?

Milbah.

Ba-rang-a-roo.

War-rai-were Biel-bool.

Go-roo-ber-ra.

Bur-ro-wun.

Gome-bee-re.

Yello-mundy.

Djimba.

Its not too often that these names are spoken nor written. In fact these names belong to the many men and woman of Warran Circular Quay. Their names and stories too easily forgotten.

What messages can be decoded from our own Nàngami?
What are these voices saying?

Byalawayagu speak soon,

Gabi, Ali, Lorna & Lou

Also, the deadly David Nathan from the School of Oriental and African Studies has also written a blog about our experience with the materials. See blog here Thanks Dave!

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Origins: First Nations Festival Opening @ the Bargehouse, London. 22/10/13

By Tiddas Take Back.

Hey you mob! Just giving you a sneak peak of some of the footage from our incredible night at the Bargehouse, London for the Opening of the Origins: First Nations Festival. More comin’ soon!

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Lou Prepares For London

By Louana Sainsbury.

I arrived to the cool and drizzle of London after a 23hour flight. A shock to my system. It was a sunny 35 degrees when I left off from Bediagal country, where Sydney Airport sits.

We were chasing the sun for a few hours on that plane before the last of the gold melted into the horizon and night caught up with us. I noted that the next time I would see the sunrise, I would be on foreign land.

Britain, home to some of my mothers forebears. My father too, though he is also Darug man and the family name ‘Sainsbury’ was handed to our Nanna Alice when she married the Englishman Joseph Sainsbury in the early 20th century.

I thought a lot about the ancestors on that flight over. About Nanna Alice and her father Sam and his mother Margaret. Margaret, or ‘Peggy’ as the family call her, was one of the first children taken from her mob and put in the native institute at Parramatta. To my knowledge she was in there at the same time as Bennelong’s son.

Bennelong, as many people know, was the first Aboriginal man to travel to England in 1792. I’ve been thinking about how difficult that journey would have been for him, and so different to my own journey now. Funnily enough, as I was frantically packing and starting to freak out, a picture of Bennelong fell off my wall and landed right in my lap. It stopped me in my tracks. I laughed and thought, this old fulla knows where I’m going today!

The evening before my flight my tiddas came over and we sat together over a fire in the back yard. We had a beautiful smoking ceremony to prepare our spirits for the journey ahead. We talked to our ancestors and asked them to walk with us and watch over us. This journey feels different to other travel I’ve done. I’m grateful to be sharing it with my tiddas and it’s comforting to know the ancestors are here with us, guiding our spirits.

By Louana Sainsbury