Whether a Fury or a Grace, we are all born of something Other.
Material/immaterial. Corporeal/ethereal. Pleasure/horror. Romantic/gothic. Earthly/otherworldly.
Where do these polarities find union? How do the confluence of elements render together? Is there a means to synthesise them? What form(s) do they take? What face would it have, if it possessed one? A body—an essence? Does it harbour a mythology?
Would it be the landscape itself or would the land be the source?
As the weather turned, dousing the landscape with an impressive rainfall that lasted from one nightfall to the next, a fortune of beauty unfurled over the alpine horizon. Fog and mist of varying densities, making its bed comfortably on the skyline.
Despite the blistering cold, I set out with what equipment I had with me that could bear the wet and trekked down to Lake Guy at the heart of Bogong. The wind was furious, rightfully magnificent in its relentlessness, however not stern enough to carve into the mist that held its own over every mountain crest.
For a small part, I mourned being in a position unable to take up my filming attire and commit myself within the frame. As mesmerising as the mist was, these were not ideal conditions.
My filming process has evolved to generally reflect the following. Determine a location, set out a perimeter within that location and venture out ideally during morning or afternoon depending on the light. I will walk and walk further still until the landscape (etc.) compels me to stop. Before I set my camera down and prepare the shot, I ask for the land (etc.) for permission to film in that place. I dress according to the project intention, typically swathed in black. The only exposed parts of my body are my hair and hands. I never reveal my face.
It is not me. I do not perform.
Once I press record and step into the frame, time and other third-dimensional constructs become void. There is an altering.
It is not an idle act and neither do I find myself thinking of the last meal or the next deadline.
For lack of a sufficient description, I can only compare it to a deep meditation or possession of the highest order. A confluence of antagonisms, where the polarities that dictate my conceptual interest sunder within and move me without.
Every gesture coalesces like a question that I concede only the landscape can answer.
The fierce rain having dissipated, I have returned to capturing footage and performing, experimenting within the environment. Some frames highlight the roiling horizon of Bogong from the view of the village and others are more nondescript. In particular, I have enjoyed exploring the numerous garden alcoves and lush paths nearest to the lake. The sun dapples through the piercing green enough that the black shrouding my figure becomes sable and feathered.
The rain, now fuel to the creek rushing two steps behind me as I rest my head on a branch swaddled in moss, sings a chant I feel I am due to repeat in the days to come.
In whatever way that forms and by the permission of whoever bequeaths it done.
The ghosts, the wanderers, the ancestral spirits. Others... etc.
- Operations Director: Madelynne Cornish
- Artistic Director: Philip Samartzis
- Design + Development: Public Office
- Typeset in Inglewood by Vincent Chan
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The Bogong Centre for Sound Culture is a remote-regional cultural initiative situated in the foothills of Victoria’s Alpine National Park. Established by Philip Samartzis and Madelynne Cornish the Centre supports projects focusing on the processes and impacts of sustainable energy production; effects of climate change in wilderness areas; ethnographic studies of remote communities; the chronicling of vanishing industrial procedures; and systems of representation used to render natural and built environments.
Additionally, the BCSC facilitates a broad cultural program comprising, festivals, exhibitions, publications, master classes and artists’ talks focusing on site-specific art practices. These programs establish a connection with place, its inhabitants, geographic space and memory. They engage a wide range of audiences, bringing together local, interstate and international artists across multiple disciplines and fields to realise ambitious works.
The BCSC is situated at the newly restored old school at Bogong Alpine Village located 350 kilometres from Melbourne in North East Victoria.
About Bogong Village
Bogong Alpine Village is 325 kilometres North-East of Melbourne situated at an altitude of 800 meters in the Alpine National Park between Mount Beauty and Falls Creek. The village was established in the late 1930s to service the first hydroelectric scheme in mainland Australia. More recently it has become a popular site for alpine sports, recreation and ecotourism. Click here for directions.
A Short History
Work on the Kiewa Scheme commenced in 1938 with the construction of a road from Tawonga to the High Plains. Previously the only access was by foot or horseback along tracks that had been forged by cattlemen of a bygone era. Bogong Village was established once the road from Junction Camp was trafficable (March 1939); this paved the way for the construction of permanent buildings. Prior to that life was tough; large canvas tents and flies were used for sleeping quarters and smaller tents were set up to house the kitchens. By 1940 Bogong Township had grown considerably with a general store, staff offices, recreational mess, police station, and a variety of accommodation such as single men’s quarters and residences for married staff and families.
Bogong State School
In 1941 the Primary School at Bogong Village enrolled its first intake of students comprising nine pupils. Initially the school consisted of a large classroom, storeroom and boys and girls toilets. Extensions were carried out in 1944, which expanded the capabilities of the school. A library, storeroom, pupil’s lunchroom and shelter shed were added and rock gardens were established. By 1947 the number of students had grown to 46 all of whom were children of local SEC workers. Over the years class sizes fluctuated and the building remained unchanged. In 1980 it ceased to operate as a school and sat idle, eventually falling into disrepair. In 2004 it was sold along with many other buildings in the village.
Madelynne Cornish and Philip Samartzis bought the Old School and set about restoring it to its former glory. The rotting weatherboards and floorboards, smashed windows and flaking paint are now a distant memory. The newly refurbished building occupies it’s original footprint and bares a strong resemblance to it’s former self. Although the internals have been modernized remnants of it’s past history remain. The Old School once played a significant role in the fabric of village life. It inspired the community and helped shape the minds of those who studied there. It is our intention as custodians that the School once again functions as a place of inspiration.
Reference: Kiewa Kids School Days at Bogong & Mount Beauty by Graham Gardner
ISBN 0-646-36226-7. Published 1998
Whether a Fury or a Grace, we are all born of something Other.