When the Dogs Talked by Karrabing Film Collective

As a group of indigenous adults argue about whether to save their government housing or their sacred lands, their children struggle to find the relevance of Dreaming – a term used to represent a ‘time out of time’ when the land was inhabited with ancestral, often supernatural, figures – within the context of their lives, which are informed by Western concepts of evolution, the soundscapes of hip hop and modern technology.
When the Dogs Talked mixes nonfiction and fiction in a thoughtful yet humorous drama about the difficulties indigenous communities have living within the strictures of modern white culture while maintaining a sense of their own traditions and relationship to the land.

Karrabing Film Collective (est. 2013, Australia) is a grassroots Indigenous media group consisting of over twenty members. They approach filmmaking as a mode of self-organisation and a means of investigating contemporary social conditions of inequality. Their films represent their lives, create bonds with their land and intervene in global images of Indigeneity. Their highly inventive cinematic language carves a unique space between artists’ film, activism, narrative cinema and grassroots self-representation.
‘The Karrabing Film Collective uses film to analyze contemporary settler colonialism and through these depictions challenge its grip. In the shadow of Third Cinema and Theater of the Oppressed, Karrabing is creating a new model for Indigenous filmmaking and activism.’ – Karrabing Film Collective

The collective was initiated in 2008 as a form of critical activism bringing together separate Indigenous clans in Australia’s Northwest Territory in the wake of their government’s Emergency Response intervention – measures taken in the name of protecting Indigenous children that have enabled police to enter homes at will, drastically increased Indigenous incarceration for minor offenses, lead to cuts in social welfare and pressured clans to open their land to mining corporations. These issues are all manifest in the collective’s films, appearing via staged and even humorous scenes that together form an approach the group has called ‘Improvisational Realism’.
As Karrabing member Elizabeth A. Povinelli has written, the group’s film-making unfolds a genre of “Improvisational Realism,” in which not only is documentary and fictional film produced as a composite image, but the images and image-making themselves are leveraged to manifest new arrangements in the reality of the film-makers. Improvisational realism is an aesthetic that carries over from the Karrabing’s everyday strategies of living in settler liberalism, where a large gap opens between the resources available and what needs to get done with them; and where almost no space exists between the overlapping realities that constitute everyday life.

Their films and installations have been exhibited at Contour Biennale, Mechelen, Belgium; Berlinale Forum Expanded; Hallucinations, Athens at documenta 14; Sydney Biennale; vdrome.org; e-flux supercommunity at the Venice Biennale; Doc’s Kingdom, Lisbon; and Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio, among others.

Members of the Karrabing Film Collective are: Patsy-Ann Jorrock, Trevor Bianamu, Gavin Bianamu, Sheree Bianamu, Telish Bianamu, Cameron Bianamu, Natasha Bigfoot, Katrina Bigfoot, Kelvin Bigfoot, Marcia Bigfoot, Rex Edmunds, Chloe Gordon, Claudette Gordon, Miles Gordon, Claude Holtze, Reggie Jorrock, Marcus Jorrock, Ethan Jorrock, Arthur Jorrock, Melissa Jorrock, Alethia Jorroth, Roblin Lane, Danielle Lane, Darryll Lane, Loraine Lane, Sharon Lane, Serena Lane, Paul Lane, Akaydia Lee, Angela Lewis, Cecilia Lewis, Joclyn McDonald Yarrowin, Elizabeth Povinelli, Quinton Sheilds, Rex Sing, Shannon Sing, Aiden Sing, Kieran Sing, Cassic Sing, Alice Wainbirri, Daphne Yarrowin, Sandra Yarrowin, Claudia Yarrowin, Roy Yarrowin, Georgia Yarrowin, and Roger Yarrowin.

Zoom is Bergen Kunsthall’s new series presenting screenings and live events with artists and filmmakers whose work lies in-between contemporary art and cinema. This season we present films that share a focus on social activism and collective practice, and explore the intersections between documentary and fiction, watching and listening, withdrawal and exposure.

15 May, Wednesday 20:00
“When the Dogs Talked” by Karrabing Film Collective
34 min, 2014