As galleries remain closed, and live performances or screenings are postponed, artists have had to re-imagine the way they can make their work accessible to us.
PICA has partnered with Prototype, Arcadia Films and the Institute of Modern Art Brisbane to deliver ‘Prototype Care Packages’, a series of new video works from artists that have come straight of the gallery and festival circuits, to your inboxes every Friday.
Curated by Lauren Carroll Harris, one of the featured works is the 2012 short film created by Martu filmmaker Curtis Taylor and established Melbourne artist Lily Hibberd, The Phone Booth Project. This will be released Friday May 8 on the Prototype website for a limited time!
Originally co-commissioned by Fremantle Arts Centre and Martumili Artists, for the exhibition We don’t need a map: a Martu experience of the Western Desert, the film explores communications objects and their impact on Martu culture, particularly how they supported their struggle for self-determination.
Martu people were some of the last Aboriginal Australians to resist dispossession. In establishing tin-mines, managing cattle stations and organising large-scale strikes, Martu and other desert people used radio and telephones to coordinate their efforts. Before radio, they used waru, or smoke signals from fire as an invitation and a way to communicate.
While many think of non-smart phones as a relic from the 20th century, this film explores the phone box as a community hub that has shaped contemporary Martu life in so many ways.
The 14-minute film took around ten months to create, working with the communities of Pamngurr and Punmu to collect stories about the phone-booth. When people came forth to share their stories, it became an opportunity to tell far more crucial story about a neighbourhoods independence and self-determination.
“A lot of the kids and even the adults were thinking about the ways they used the phone booth. And this could be applied to any of the new things that come into Martu life or community. They were remembering the time that they first saw it, touched it, held it, heard it, and found a way for it to benefit them, ” says Curtis.
“They recalled the last ten or twenty years of remote community history; how they communicated with different people across vast distances”.
During the current pandemic, telecommunications have been crucial in our daily lives, ensuring we are able to continue working, learning, and connecting with the important people in our lives. As the film portrays a unique cast of characters, we can witness how the phone booth acts as a public resource of collective belonging.
If you would like to check out this film, and others, subscribe to Prototype Care Package here.
Want more arts and culture? See the latest news from the 2020 Performing Arts WA Awards here.