Cant Chant (Wegrewhere)

by Ah Kee, Vernon


Figuring Landscapes

Athletic Indigenous ‘dudes’ re-appropriate a white surfers’ paradise while the ghosts of colonial history play across the underside of a surfboard bearing a photograph of Ah Kee’s grandfather captured by the anthropologist Norman Tindale in the 1920s.

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Three sequences run simultaneously: one depicts what on the surface appears to be a straight surfing sequence; another shows three Indigenous ‘dudes’ surveying the all-white territory of Surfers’ Paradise; the third pans a back-of-beyond billabong scene, but one where the ghastly outline of a surfboard strung up by barbed wire is hanging from what might be the traditional coolabah tree. The shape is gunned into, repeatedly, and it swings from the impact of the successive rounds of bullets. The underbelly of the boards wielded by Ah Kee’s young surfers bear images reworked from early twentieth-century anthropologist Norman Tindale’s photographic documentation of Indigenous peoples as a chronicle of a vanishing race. - Pat Hoffie


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