Clare’s installation, ‘A Well at the Bottom of Sea’ formed a part of an exhibition presented by a group of artists from the Sydney Biennale, 2022: rīvus
rīvus will enable aqueous beings – rivers, wetlands and other salt and freshwater ecosystems – to share a dialogue with artists, architects, designers, scientists, and communities ….The Curitarium of the Biennale of Sydney 2022
This post foccuses on the work and activism of a group of the artists who presented their work iat the Sydney Biennale and who are also exhibiting at the IMA in Brisbane. The group is known as the Torres Strait 8.
Who are the Torres Strait 8 and why are they so ground breaking?
Zenadh Kes (the Torres Strait Islands & surrounding seas) is home to Traditional Owners who have lived with a deep connection to land, sea, sky and culture for over 60,000 years.
Right now, Torres Strait Islanders are on the frontlines of the climate crisis and urgent action is needed to ensure they can remain on their homelands. Advancing seas are already threatening homes, as well as damaging fresh water supplies, crops, burial grounds and sacred cultural sites.
Our Islands Our Home is a campaign led by Torres Strait Islanders to protect their island homes.
On 23 September 2022, the Torres Strait 8 made international legal history after the United Nations Human RIghts Committee found that the Australian Government is violating its human rights obligations to Torres Strait Islanders by failing to act on climate change.
The landmark decision obliges the Government to do whatever it takes to ensure the safe existence of the Torres Strait Islands. It also sets a precedent for Indigenous Peoples all around the world.Find out more and support the group through this link: Our Island Our Home
Three of the artists were present at the Brisbane exhibition opening and I was delighted to hear about the campaign and share some of their stories. I also felt privileged to be included in the ‘Welcome to Country’ ceremony.
In viewing their exhibited poems, artwork film and stories, I became aware that the themes shared something in common with the early Irish Dinshanchas tales, the ‘lore of prominant places’. Yet, whereas Dindshenchas are, for the majority of people, if anything, distant and somewhat obscure texts, for the people I was now meeting, these stories are vibrant and current ways of viewing and interacting with their immediate environment.
And there is more. As each artist introduced herself or himself, each expressed an individual, personal connectedness, to an, animal, a river, mountain, or star, etc. as forming an integral part of their own naming. For them, the people and the land are truly one.
The early Irish tales frequently tell of the consequences of willful neglect of ‘coir’, natural justice. A poor judgement from a leader, a careless or unthinking act from a warrior or maker, the word of a corrupt poet, any one of these could break the natural flow of fertility and prosperity between the ‘worlds’ and cause the land to become a wasteland.
Here, I was encountering a group who were still able to hear’the voices of the wells’ in their traditional stories, and, who were also effectiively acting on them in the world of climate change politics.
It left me thinking!