The Aborigine is Present. 2015.
ABC Radio National Arts and Books Interview with Daniel Browning and Robyne Latham, 15th July 2015. Highlight link below then click open URL.
The opening performance of The Aborigine is Present. 2015. The Koorie Heritage Trust Museum. Federations Square. Melbourne.
Please note, the lighting for all performances of The Aborigine is Present was dimmed.
Below are a selection of quotes posted to me by both Indigenous and non Indigenous people who participated in the performances of The Aborigine is Present.
I have consciously chosen to not differentiated who is or isn't Indigenous.
...Below are my thoughts and reflections on that experience.
"I feel I was given a rare participatory experience, and consider it an honour to have taken part in 'The Aborigine is Present'. The experience was one of 'a deep connectedness', when time seemed to stand still, and yet, connected me to someone whose Aboriginal Heritage stretches back at least 40,000 years. These were sacred minutes in my lifetime."...
..I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for allowing me to sit in The Aborigine is Present. It was such an amazing and indescribable experience. I have never felt so much love and support from a stranger! This performance has given me so much confidence, and filled me with a kind of pride I haven't ever felt before.
Congratulations on putting together such an incredible body of art.
Thank you Robyne, for an experience I'll never forget,...
…am trying to say that The Aborigine Is Present was the most honest, direct, touching and powerful experience I have had in some years.
I wanted to tell you this. I also wanted to tell you that if there is anything my wife and I can do to further awareness of the appalling ongoing nationwide amnesia in Australia, through our jobs, personal lives, time, anything then it would be an honour.
Thank you, and all of the indigenous sitters, for providing me with such a beautiful experience.
I will never forget those 3 minutes.
..thank you for the invite and the opportunity to experience sitting for your project.
I experienced something I wasn't expecting.
As I sat at the table my body went into this involuntary shaking, my head and the rest of my body joined in.
It was like I had Parkinsons. I almost had to cancel the first person, everything in me wanted to just get up and walk away but i did some deep breathing and some self talk and sat it out. I finished the first five minutes so I thought id be fine for the next person but no it all started again but not as intense. The third person was ok.
I've had this experience before when I’m put on the spot or have to be the centre of attention...
..Sitting opposite you, holding and sharing a steady gaze with you, I saw deep sadness and vulnerability in/though your eyes. A beautiful sadness too or, perhaps, a beauty within or alongside the sadness. Maybe you were mirroring these states back to me? I don't know. Regardless, I felt enormous gratitude, respect, and compassion stirring within me; human warmth...Love...activated by your presence, honesty and openness. I don't know how much/or little of this was evident to you. I know even less about what you saw in/through me.
Those lines of the poet Rumi have come to the surface through my processing. You may well know them:
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoingand rightdoing, there is a field.I'll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grassthe world is too full to talk about.
Thank you so much Robyne, for meeting me there last Sunday...
I extend my heartfelt thanks to all who participated in The Aborigine is Present.
Some were sitters, some were the observers, all were integral to the event.
This work truly requires courage from all involved, Indigenous and non Indigenous alike.
A huge thanks also goes out to Naretha Williams, who's unwavering integrity in holding the performance space with me, epitomised The Aborigine is Present.
... and to Uncle Jim and Aunty Kylie Berg, thank you for your 'behind the scenes' support, encouragement and words of wisdom.