Few discussions about colonial history are easy ones. In Australia, at least, the difficulty seems to lie in attempts to make these discussions seem like shades-of-grey topics, when at their heart, they're much more straightforward. A few hundred years ago, some people came here, thought "I'll have that" and proceeded to move in, in an attempt to casually obliterate the population and culture of the people who were already here. Again and again, we've seen a lack of widespread, meaningful discussions lead by those in positions of power. So, two artistic collectives with a focus on First Nations culture are changing the discussion. And they're not just relying on words.
Le Dernier Appel (The Last Cry) is a collaboration between Australian inter-cultural dance company Marrugeku and New Caledonia's Centre Cultural Tjibaou Nouméa. As New Caledonia prepares for an independence referendum in November and Australia continues to debate treaty and how to boost constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians, the pairing provides contrasting angles on the same thorny issue.
At Carriageworks from August 15–18, Le Dernier Appel sorts through what we already know about colonisation, then divides the narrative into the useful and discardable. The performers then use what is left to explore how performative movement might be reinvigorated by these issues.
No less difficult for its use of movement and gesture, rather than voices, to translate the message, Le Dernier Appel is not drawing a line under the issue. Rather, in the words of co-creators Serge Aime Coulibaly, Dalisa Pigram and Rachael Swain, it is an effort to "recuperate in the aftermaths of colonisation…and meet in states of instability, frustration and radical reinvention".
Le Dernier Appel (The Last Cry) will run from Wednesday, August 15 to Saturday, August 18 at Carriageworks, before going on tour in New Caledonia and Europe. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit the Carriageworks website.