Throughout my ten years that I've lived in Adelaide (South Australia), there have been so many places within the city that have particularly caught my attention for their calm and relaxed atmosphere, where one can get away from the hustle and bustle of busy city living to take a moment and breathe. Among other things, I am particularly attracted to public places that offer cultural experiences and insight, especially to someone like myself, who has very limited knowledge and is still learning new things about the Aboriginal Australian culture.
The Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute is one of those locations that I visit quite frequently, where I am drawn towards their rich cultural heritage that is displayed through their unique artwork and exhibited material, their soothing Aboriginal-Australian music, and the general vibe of the place that demands respect and appreciation for all that has been endured by those belonging to the First Nations community.
Being Australia's oldest Aboriginal-owned and managed multi-arts centre and with the advent of the annual Adelaide Fringe festivities returning for its diamond anniversary, the indoor space of Tandanya has been transformed into an immersive and lights-driven cultural experience, where visitors can engage in a visual storytelling experience that explores the history of Tjirbruki and those who share the dreaming in light.
YABARRA aims to offer their spectators with the ability to be taken on an interactive narrative experience that will delve into the 6000-year story of Tjirbruki, by walking down a pathway that is adorned with 3D light effects and state-of-the-art illuminations, in addition to authentically-replicated props. The show aims to tell the story of the Williams family from Mullawirrameyunna (dry forest people). Channelling the history and survival story of Georgina Williams Nganki Burka Mekauwe (mother of Kaurna Senior Custodian and cultural and creative producer of YABARRAKarl "Winda" Telfer) that dates back to 1972, the light and sound installation represents the Dreaming track, which had cultural markers to help those who were wrongfully removed to return to their traditional land and their home.
As you walk down the 'track', you are surrounded by a blend of visuals (including natural elements of water with fishes, fire pits, and rock formations, to name a few) and traditional Aboriginal Australian music to signify the ceremonial practice of governing a safe journey back home. 'Sleeping caves' are also set up in various corners of this Patpangga Perki and visitors are encouraged to seat themselves in certain parts of the exhibition to attain a fully immersive experience and have their senses heightened from what unfolds around them.
Commissioned and co-produced by Adelaide Fringe, in collaboration with cultural and creative producer Karl Telfer, the YABARRA: Dreaming in Light experience has been made possible by the ingenious digital works by Monkeystack and is recommended to be viewed in a span of 30 minutes - 1 hour. It is appropriate for school groups, families and other diverse audiences and aims to be educational to anyone and everyone who is looking to gain an in-depth perspective into the Dreaming story of Tjirbruki (an ancestor of the Kaurna people). While it is a free event, it is also a timed event, so make sure you reserve your space by booking via the website.
YABARRA: Dreaming in Light will be available for viewing from February 15 - March 15, 2020 at the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, as part of Adelaide Fringe. It can be accessed from the East Terrace entrance.