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Antipodean Epic (2015-2016)

Dr Jill Orr
Helen Vivian, curator; Tasco Inland; Collin Hunt; the Mildura Palimpsest Biennale 10#
External Grants
Australia Council Fellowship
  • 2016 Brazil: MIP3 Performance Festival, curated by Fernando Ribiera, Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo, Biennale, Brazil.
  • 2016 The Quarry: performance event for the Lorne Sculpture Biennale curated by Julie Collins, Lorne, Victoria.
  • 2016 Photographs and video, Fehily Contemporary, Melbourne.
  • 2015 Live performance Mildura Palimpsest Biennale #10, Mildura.

Humanity’s survival depends on seed, the ultimate container of life but as climate and consequently environment is changing, seed has become contested ground. Political, scientific, environmental and ethical debate surround both genetically modified seed and its reliance on the global monopoly of a few mega agri-businesses. This is starkly contrasted by localised heritage seed closely guarded for its untampered quality. Both forms of seed production are charged with the task of feeding populations as they grow exponentially into the future. Here lies part of our challenge.

Antipodean Epic is a poetic journey that incorporates seed both in abundance and scarcity. The work utilises costume to create three characters, or creatures, as a means to ask:

  • Are the creatures the end of their species, or the beginning of another?
  • Are they displaced or transported viral creations?
  • Are they unwanted interlopers within the seed stock?
  • Are they the carriers of a potential future or remnants of a distant past, or both?

Research contribution

Antipodean Epic, Mildura; The Quarry: Antipodean Epic; Lorne and Brazil: Antipodean Epic

While the successive productions draw from, and extend, the initial research conducted for the Mildura 2015 Antipodean Epic, the site-specific nature of each incarnation has meant the work was re-invented anew. The new aspect of research in the different sites focuses on adaptability. Achieved through performance as a principle for current social, community and artistic practices, these works are examples of readings and experiences across different cultures and audiences, through which other nuances were brought to light. In other words, the demands of each site and context brought new perspectives and responses both from the performance itself and the engagement of audiences.

Research significance

This work contributes to the current revival of arts practice in the regions, specifically important to Federation University Australia. More broadly, the work has been attended by close to 2,000 people of diverse ages and cultures. The audiences at each event have been international, showing that being regional does not limit artistic communication. Importantly, the work is a platform visualising one aspect of the multi-faceted challenges we face through global warming.