During 5 days of last week, I documented Tom Nicholson‘s Indefinite Substitution as part of The Cinemas Project. The project involves 5 artists that relate notions of site and cinema at 5 regional Victoria cities: Mildura, Warnambool, Bendigo, Sale and Geelong. The project was commissioned by NETS Victoria, curated by Bridget Crone and includes the artists Tom Nicholson, Mikala Dwyer, Brooke Andrew, Lily Hibberd and Bianca Hester. My footage was used by the ABC in their Arts segment below:
Indefinite Substitution fuses the historical relevance of the Joy Arc cinema, Australia‘s first on-water cinema at Geelong‘s Eastern Beach, with the histories of William Buckley and Melbourne‘s founder John Batman. Buckley escaped from the subsequently abandoned penal settlement at Sorrento and lived with the Wathaurong for 32 years, in and around present-day Geelong. Tom remarked that “one could almost consider Buckley Australia’s first asylum seeker,” and that while John Batman allegedly signed a treaty with the Wurundjeri people, “which recognises the sovereignty of the people who lived he before,” that treaty was more like a Medieval pact and may have been forged.
Up to 60 volunteers retraced the steps of Batman and Buckley, reforming two un-fired busts of the men into barely recognisable lumps of clay. The process of transporting the sculptures of these figures from Victoria‘s colonial past alludes to an alternate history of Batman and Buckley‘s role in history. “I guess it’s a way of thinking about how to commemorate the early foundation of Melbourne and thinking about a way of talking about those histories different to the classical language of sculptures that we might use.” says Tom.