Shark Bay Inscription - 2013
Shark Bay in Western Australia is the first recorded landfall of a European in 1616. It is also a world heritage listed area, though its incredible biodiversity is not immediately visible, and therefore not immediately understood by ‘outsiders’; at least not when viewed from level ground. But when viewed ‘from above’ Shark Bay reveals demarcations and boundaries that tell another story; between the bay and the ocean, between feral destruction and its regrowth/rehabitation, between European colonisation and country, between the ‘lie of the land’ and landscape mythology, between eternity and ourselves, and the realisation that there are other ways of mapping reality than those that dominate our everyday lives.
This is an important discovery that symbolises our glancing and uncertain relationship with this country – and for better or for worse – our ‘Australian condition’. Our images reveal an understanding of who we are; not just where we have come from but what it means to come from somewhere else, rather than simply ‘being’ where you find yourself to be. Our worry is, how we-as-a-nation seem to live in a partial state of indifference to not only much of our past, but also our future. A condition that remains ‘blind’ and indifferent to what is staring us in the face.
Like many of our friends, we were disenfranchised and disenchanted by a bicentennial that turned out to be anything but inclusive. We are therefore left pondering 2016 as a chance to do what as a nation we didn’t resolve in 1988, that is to celebrate origins and beginnings in the broadest sense. 2016 will hopefully provide a formal focus to ‘acknowledge and honour’ and therefore better understand our past, our ancestry, our refugees, our diversity and differences, our duties and responsibilities … our origins … and consequently facilitate a just and long overdue reconciliation.
So from a celebration of origins, to a transformative model of ‘seeing’, Shark Bay Inscription provides an opportunity to re-image our nation, and to imagine who we will need to be in an increasingly uncertain and unpredictable world. While this implies something of a History lesson, instead of making our images and films into historical stories or documents, we hope to induce others to work with what we are doing in support of their own readings, responses and presentations, and to prioritise the importance of vision, innovation and imagination in changing minds, lives, and policy, not just in composing words and images.