18 September–19 December 202018 Sep–19 Dec 2020
Premiering in Australia at the IMA is INFRACTIONS, a feature length video installation in dialogue with frontline Indigenous cultural workers’ struggles against threats to more than 50% of the Northern Territory from shale gas fracking. As Australia becomes the leading exporter of planet-warming fossil fuels globally, and Asia and the EU plan to increase fracked gas imports, pressure on this region has intensified, threatening hard-won Aboriginal land rights and homelands.
Plans to ‘Develop the North’ of Australia have been resurrected at different moments since the nineteenth century, but abandoned just as quickly for being built on fantasies that related little to the actual behaviour of monsoonal-desert water systems. With the lifting of a state moratorium in 2018, British, US, and homegrown mining companies seek to roll out toxic drilling rigs over vast underground flows, which are key connecting sites of culture, law and food for First Nations.
Refuting capitalist and colonial models of land and water in the driest continent on earth, INFRACTIONS features musician/community leader Dimakarri ‘Ray’ Dixon (Mudburra); two-time Telstra Award finalist Jack Green, also winner of the the 2015 Peter Rawlinson Conservation Award (Garawa, Gudanji); musician/community leader Gadrian Hoosan (Garrwa, Yanyuwa); ranger Robert O’Keefe (Wambaya), educators Juliri Ingra and Neola Savage (Gooreng Gooreng); Ntaria community worker and law student Que Kenny (Western Arrarnta); musician Cassie Williams (Western Arrarnta); the Sandridge Band from Borroloola; and Professor Irene Watson (Tanganekald, Meintangk Bunganditj) contributor to the draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 1990-1994.
As the camera connects incommensurable legal geographies, extractive industry and labour history to ongoing Indigenous-led resistance and movement, defenders of culture and water from Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Marlinja (Newcastle Waters), Borroloola in Gulf Country, and Yallarm (Gladstone, Queensland) warn of stories of manufactured consent, and Indigenous legal theorist Irene Watson explains the limits of the Western international legal system for planetary survival and justice.
INFRACTIONS is the final work of The Gas Imaginary (2013–2019), a project by Gladstone-born artist, writer and curator Rachel O’Reilly that has used poetry, drawing, moving images and lecture formats to explain the legal, aesthetic and technical conceits of ‘unconventional’ gas, in ongoing dialogue with Gooreng Gooreng elders and women environmental activists. Commissioned by KW Berlin Production Series, dedicated to artists’ moving image (supported by the Julia Stoschek Collection and OUTSET Germany_Switzerland), INFRACTIONS premiered at Babylon Kino Berlin and ICA London (discursive partner), featuring public programs with Que Kenny (Western Arrarnta), and returns to Australia in 2020-21.
Director/Research/Camera/Sound: Rachel O’Reilly
Producer: Mason Leaver-Yap
Editor/Visual Research: Sebastian Bodirsky
Camera: Tibor Hegedis, Colleen Raven (Nharla Photography)
Sound mastering: Jochen Jezussek
Map visuals: Valle Medina, Benjamin Reynolds (Pa.LaC.E)
Subtitles: Katharina Habibi
Additional support: Australia Council for the Arts
Thanks: ‘Stories from the Frontline: Artists on Climate and Cultural Change’, Katherine Regional Arts Centre 2018, Watch This Space (Mparntwe), Gastivists (Berlin), Prof. Irene Watson, Lindsay and Richard Johnson, Lauren Mellor, Alex Read, Billee McGinley, Sarah Keenan, Diana McArty, Kirsty Howey, David Nixon, Caro McDonald, Jo Holden/Evans, Lisa Stefanoff, Lloyd Beck, Marion Caris, Alex Kelly, Carmen Saledo, Bong Ramilo, Cheryl Watson, Mimi Catterns, Jo Holden, Beth Sometimes, Phil and Rick, Sonja Hornung, Manuela Kolke, Lindy Nolan, Carol Matthews, Karen Auty, Joe Collins, Zowie Douglas Kinghorn, Sumu Sivanesan, Nathan Gray, Jacklyn O’Reilly, Lawrence O’Reilly, Jonathan Oxlade, Anike Joyce Sadiq, Katja George, Regina Sarreiter, the Phd roundtable of the Centre for Research Architecture Goldsmiths, the Extracted Bodies | Corporeal Grounds group of women artists in Berlin.