REFUGE: DISPLACEMENT (24 August - 7 September 2019)
Refuge 2019 - 2020 brings the climate emergency closer to home. It drops us in the hot zone of considering climate-related displacement - what it means to leave and what it means to arrive. In 2019, we begin on our own doorstep: are you ready to evacuate? In 2020, we begin to consider the aftermath of evacuation: are you ready to assemble?
PORTAGE: RAFT | FLOTILLA | SHELTER | CAMP (2019-2020)
Disasters are a terrible time to learn new skills
MORE IMAGES TO COME
Decades of echoing sirens and warnings from the global science community on climate change have gone unanswered. In the next decade, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we are going to see increasing climatic events with compounding and unprecedented economic, social, and political impacts which will affect livelihoods and ways of life. To borrow Margaret Atwood’s declaration, we are no longer talking about climate change, we are facing “everything change”. What are the skills and knowledges that will be the most coveted as the climate emergency deepens and affects you and your communities? Who will you/we turn to for help? What are the skills and knowledges you can contribute?
Portage is the act of carrying a boat and its cargo between navigable waters. ‘To portage’ is work together – to secure your belongings to your body and to carry your vessel over land in unison to the next destination. Each arrival point determines the next destination. As a metaphor, we use the idea of portage as a means of coming together.
Portage is a two-year, multi-platform project in four stages: Raft, Flotilla, Shelter, Camp. It offers survival skill workshops that explore in tangible ways the themes of displacement, evacuation, mobilisation and shelter, allowing the public a visceral experience to the potential upheavals wrought by climate catastrophe.
Portage is a project by Jen Rae of Fair Share Fare in collaboration with architects Mittul and Munir Vahanvati from Giant Grass working with five intercultural master weavers and local communities. It unearths overlooked skills, knowledges and values that might offer salvation in the years ahead. Both timely and willing to take the long view, Portage is a call to mobilise, collaborate and arrive at purpose.
RAFT is a series of co-building workshops using materials from our natural and built environments to build two large-scale water vessels. Over five days, 100 people work together to build and assemble the rafts. Each workshop commences with an induction to learn basic building skills (e.g. lashing, joinery, splitting, tying, binding, cutting, etc) using bamboo, hand tools and rope, followed by construction and assembly activities. The co-built rafts form Flotilla, an immersive installation for audiences to experience and to reflect upon the imminent climate refugee crisis. Each day, catered lunches provided by local community members.
FLOTILLA is an immersive installation comprised of the co-built and assembled rafts from the co-building Raft workshops. Audiences will be led into the space to experience what it feels like to be in close proximity with strangers, adrift in darkness. Honing in, a 12-minute multi-channel soundscape takes the audience through a meditational arc of sounds that are disorientating as they intensify. Tensions ease as the familiar emerges and calm washes over. Sound design by Marco Cher-Gibard. (soundscape will be posted soon)
SHELTER (2019 - 2020) will see the rafts transformed into a series of shelters via a series of weaving workshops with six intercultural master weavers and the Portage creative team. In 2019, we wanted to get together sooner than later so we held a weavers walk and workshop during REFUGE: Displacement on the 31 August 2019.
Commencing at Arts House, a walk is led to the Royal Park Grasslands with City of Melbourne Park Rangers, the Portage creative team and five intercultural master weavers from distinct Indigenous backgrounds share stories and some of the utilitarian uses for local plants. Can we grow today the building supplies we might need in the future? What plants may be tolerable in a changing climate? We look to those who grow, study, observe and weave grasses as a starting point.
Following the walk, we reconvened at Arts House for an intimate workshop sharing more stories and experimenting with materials and weaving techniques. Vicki, Bronwyn, Abshiro, Muhubo and Vicki shared their practices with the group and then invited people to come learn techniques.
Master weavers: Aunty Vicki Kinai, Aunty Bronwyn Razem, Dr Vicki Couzens, Abshiro Hussein and Muhubo Sulieman
In 2020, we ask What would a Melbourne-centric disaster shelter look/feel like? Join us for a series of weaving workshops and co-building activities as we build SHELTER and CAMP. Stay tuned for more details to come.
CAMP (2020) is our arrival point after two years of co-building together. The arrival will determine the next destination. Stay tuned in early 2020 for more details.
PORTAGE RAFT and SHELTER workshop Producer: Naomi Velaphi
Supported by – This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, and supported by The Venny; Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre; North Melbourne Language and Learning; Kensington Neighbourhood House; Museums Victoria; and the City of Melbourne through the Park Rangers – Parks, Property and Waterway, and Arts House.