Indigenous focus for Freo Biennale

Amrita Hepi is bringing people in isolation together through dance.

INDIGENOUS artists will shine at Fremantle’s Biennale festival running from November 5-21 this year. 

Fremantle Biennale artistic director and co-founder Tom Mùller said at the festival’s launch at the Naval Store 

last Friday (August 20) the artists involved would add a new contemporary layer to “interrogate, reveal, and celebrate the cultural, social and historical uniqueness” of the Whadjuk Noongar people’s land.

Works in this year’s program include a look at Noongar stories through the stars and a performance which takes its inspiration from Black Lives Matter chants to bring together Noongar singers and dancers with a large brass ensemble on the banks of the Swan River where bull sharks would cross from the salt to fresh water. 

Bundjulung artist and choreographer Amrita Hepi’s project Outside In aims to connect people “in moments of isolation”. Although it was inspired by a radio program which helped people in prison connect with their loved ones, her performance has added meaning this year, with much of the world in isolation because of Covid-19.

Hepie has set up an international hotline for people to make dedications and song requests for loved ones they are missing, which will be put to a soundtrack that she will accompany with dance.

Speaking to a crowd dressed in black and navy blue, fellow Biennale co-founder Corine Van Hall said the festival had helped created conversations between Noongar and non-Indigenous artists.

The festival is held every two years in the Noongar season of Kambarang, and began in 2017. 

This year’s includes 18 immersive artworks, performances and digital media. 

The artists worked closely with traditional owners for 18 months to present an accurate representation of First Nations’ history, and how they experienced the cultural and spiritual significance of the land. 

The Biennale’s title this year is Crossing 21, and performances are being held across Fremantle, Cockburn, Melville and Coogee Beach.

Ancient stories tech up

Indigenous Australians were amongst the oldest astronomers, now Ilora McGuire is giving their stories an ultra-modern twist.

USING one of the latest human innovations, Moombaki uses 160 drones to present ancient Indigenous Dreaming stories found in the stars. 

Indigenous artist Ilora McGuire collaborated with local elders to develop the show, which shows how stories described in the stars and constellations are connected to Whadjuk land. It will be performed on the banks of the Swan River in Fremantle from November 5-7, and Attadale from November 12-14, with the final performance at Coogee Beach on November 19-20.

McGuire is a Noongar/Kungarakan woman whose ancestry extends from Whadjuk country to the Fitzmaurice region in the Northern Territory.

She is currently studying a bachelor of fine arts at Curtin University.

The project was “an educational tool for Indigenous people to pass on traditional stories”, McGuire said at the Biennale launch.

Elder Karen Jacobs, who collaborated on Moombaki, said she and other traditional owners were grateful for the opportunity to share their culture through new technologies.

Moombaki got support from mining magnate Andrew Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation, the Federal government and local drone company Global Unmanned Systems.

Performances: Each of the performances start at 7.30pm.

stories by CHARLOTTE BELL

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