Light and sound installations to showcase Black, queer and grassroots stories in Central Sydney

Curated Stories in Light runs from May 19-23 in Sydney. Image: supplied.

By RACHEL EVANS

For five nights in May, three locations around Warrane (Sydney Cove) are being transformed with images, music and stories of the lives and resistance of Sydney’s Black, queer and grassroots communities.

From Wednesday, 19 May to Sunday, 23 May, from dusk until 11pm, Curated Stories in Light will project images and footage on the sandstone walls of the Sydney Eye Hospital, Tallawoladah (The Rocks) and inner-city Angel Place.

Curated by filmmaker and producer Jacqui North, in collaboration with Illuminart Australia, the project showcases the work of photojournalist John Janson-Moore; Aboriginal elder and esteemed actor Uncle Jack Charles; composer/sound artist Andrée Greenwell; Dharug artist Leanne Tobin; Arab-Australian human rights lawyer Sara Saleh; and street artist Ms Saffaa.

The three sites – each located within a kilometre walking distance – offer participants a view into how marginalised communities survive and resist heteronormative and racist colonial Australia.

Contact Trace

The Sydney Eye Hospital in Macquarie Street, next to NSW Parliament, will be lit up with Contact Trace – the work of Janson-Moore, who gives voice to grassroots communities through regularly photographing rallies and political actions. A cinematic, futuristic light-artwork will be projected onto the hospital’s historic southern archway, at the Macquarie Street entrance.

Festival goers will see images of commuters and workers surviving COVID-19, activists resisting inconsistent lockdown orders and protesting unilateral government decisions, and health workers risking their lives to make the city safe from the pandemic.

The images are accompanied by Greenwell’s music and Uncle Jack’s narration.

Love & Revolution

Love & Revolution will be projected onto 47 George Street, Tallawoladah. It includes a tribute to the late Palestinian-Lebanese poet Candy Royalle, and moves women centre-stage, uniting light-artworks and strong lyrics.

The light-artwork documents a stunning mural created by street artist Ms Saffaa in collaboration with Nicola Bailey and community.

It features poetry from Saleh and a documentary featuring Royalle and her campaigns for queer and Palestinian liberation.

“We are dawn and dusk, there is no light without our dark, we are growing new worlds and new worlds are growing us,” writes Saleh, in Arabic and English.

On May 21 at 6.30pm at Tallawoladah, DJ Tonalist, will perform soundscapes accompanied by Saleh, alongside Love & Revolution.

Candy Royalle. Image: supplied.

Bungaree

Bungaree is the work of Tobin and recovers the colonial sandstone walls of Angel Place for Aboriginal stories.

Her projection art will reclaim the life of Bungaree of the Garigal clan (Broken Bay).

Bungaree was a teenager when the First Fleet sailed into Sydney Cove. He went on to become a diplomat, interpreter and witty mimic of the colonials. He circumnavigated the country with the Royal Navy, but unlike Captain Flinders and his cat, no statue was erected for Bungaree.

The piece casts its glow over the spot where the Tank Stream once flowed and where the Gadigal people crafted stone tools.

“Angel Place might be covered in concrete, but those rivers and creeks are still running through this place. They still retain and hold those stories of country,” said Tobin.

Filmmaker and producer Jacqui North encourages people to walk to the locations.

“As the city re-emerges from lockdown, these artworks remember and celebrate peaceful mass protests and look to a brighter future.”

Curated Stories in Light runs from 5.30pm to 11pm, Wednesday, 19 May to Sunday, 23 May, 2021. For more information, visit https://illuminart.com.au/csil/ and https://whatson.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/events/curated-stories-in-light.

An earlier version of this story first appeared in Green Left. It is reprinted here with the kind permission of Rachel Evans and Green Left.