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

NOT LOST

By Ali Murphy-Oates.

A few years ago, I drove with my Dad to Dubbo in central-western New South Wales for a corroboree and to visit the graveyard where we thought my grandmother, his mother, had been buried. My grandmother had passed away when my dad was two years old, and he and his brother were sent to be raised by their whitefella paternal grandparents in Cronulla, South Sydney. It wasn’t until recently that I even thought or realised that we might not know where my grandmother was buried, because everyone gets a grave, right? My maternal grandmother and grandfather are right next to each each other, I almost tripped over them when we said goodbye to our great-uncle last year. But hers is unmarked, possibly shared with others, and relegated to the section of Dubbo cemetery where the poor, the unwanted, and the Aboriginal people were buried. A bare grassed strip of land with a plaque on a wall standing guard in the centre – all the names that could be remembered or found again. I don’t think she’s there.

I’ve been in London 6 days, and have 3 days until I fly home again. In this time our group has seen and done some incredible, heartbreaking, confronting, humbling and uplifting things. On our first day we found street art on Brick Lane that addressed both the colonisation of Australia and the current hysteria over our (lack of) refugee intake. We wept over a shield at the British Museum, a moment of first contact, first conflict, frozen behind glass and forgotten. Placed in a hall with thousands upon thousands of collected memories from other colonised countries and presided over by a bust of Joseph Banks. Thousands more from that time, that place, stored away from public eye. We poured over the notebooks of William Dawes at the University of London, recordings of words written in Sydney language, conversations half written that we can almost hear. Missionary reports on the devastation and extinction of the Aboriginal people, printed proper with an addendum of desperation scrawled over the top. Lake Macquarie people, so close to my home. We performed a smoking ritual for the guests of the opening night of the Origins Festival, and I sung my guts out in Darkinjung language. They are some of the only words I know from the country I was born on. And finally realising, through conversations in the museum, at the university and with people on the tube, how distant and disconnected the history and the current state of our people is to the life of the everyday person in the UK. They literally hold our history, and they don’t even know it.

My relationship to my culture has sometimes felt like my relationship to these objects. Locked away, but on display. Other people tell me what it is. Sometimes there’s a fire in my belly, but more often it’s a gentle stirring. A yearning for more. It’s right there, I know, but somehow just out of reach.

Yesterday in the In The Balance: Indigeneity, Performance, Globalisation conference we found ourselves in a debate over the ‘loss’ of language and culture. The implication (accidentally made) of loss upset some of my colleagues, quite rightly. Others proposed the term should be an ‘erasure’ of language and culture, which I agreed with. But the words that have stuck with me since then came from Yorta Yorta woman Deborah Cheetham, someone whom I was absolutely star struck by and could not believe I was in the same room as. She asserted (and I paraphrase) that our culture is not lost, not erased. It is still there. It’s with our old people. It’s in the land. In our songs and our rock carvings. We just have to listen and look. We just need to reconnect.

Back at the cemetery, after wandering around for while and indulging in a morbid fascination of the ageing tombstones, I eventually found my dad under the largest tree in the row that borders the strip of grass. He’s lying down and looking up through the leaves.
He’s peaceful.
He’s found her.
He’s talking to her.
I lay down next to him and looked up myself. And I knew. She wasn’t lost. She was always here. We just needed to listen and look. To reconnect.