Language through light in Western Desert Australia2017
This light and language project took place in a remote community in the Western Australia Goldfields desert area. For 2 years I have been working with the local community to try and lift cultural heritage and mother tongue languages through layers of historical events, both on a level of lifting the traditional owners of the land as well as looking at immigration throughout settlement, gold rush and recent times. It has been a complicated journey through very dense and complicated matter of a land so full of recent colonial and environmental scars. The ABC TV channel of Australia came to our event that took place in front of Mt Leonora (colonial name) at the Dingo Dreaming Tjukurrpa (traditional name), a place surrounded by gold and nickel mines, and made a short (follow link): https://www.facebook.com/ABCGoldfieldsEsperance/videos/10154865396101712/
I wanted to use ideas around light and darkness, sun and water- elements that are related to both desert environ and Scandinavian environ with an attempt to make something 'invisible' visible. Over 100 local members both from the white community and the Aboriginal peoples community attended, which is a huge number in such a small place. I introduced bendable LED lights that can either be powered by solar cell or AA batteries that was made into words chosen and spelled by the community. I also made workshops in cyanotype photography, an old fashioned way of making photograms by using UV light (the Sun) to expose and water to develop the images. This was a very popular and hands on approach with magical results also on display in an old mining cottage from 1910. With me I had an artist assistant- a local young Aboriginal man of Noongar and Tjupan / Wongatha clan language groups, Dennis Simmons funded through Healthway in Australia and via IAS Perth and the Shire of Leonora (Heritage manager Goldfields Elaine Labuschagne) who commissioned me to work out in Leonora. Further work will be on display next year at the Art Gallery in Western Australia in Perth.
Image credit: Roderick Sprigg and ABC Goldfields-Esperance (video link)