Wutharr, Saltwater Dreams

Still from 'Wutharr, Saltwater Dreams' (2016)
Still from Wutharr, Saltwater Dreams (2016), a film and media project by the Karrabing Film Collective. Courtesy Karrabing Film Collective

Across a series of flashbacks, an extended indigenous family argues about what caused their boat’s motor to break down and leave them stranded out bush. As they consider the roles played in the incident by the ancestral present, the regulatory state and the Christian faith, Wutharr: Saltwater Dreams explores the multiple demands and inescapable vortexes of contemporary indigenous life.

The Karrabing Film Collective is a grassroots Indigenous based media group, who use filmmaking as a means of self-organisation and social analysis. Shot by Karrabing members on iPhones, Wutharr, Saltwater Dreams (2016) is the collective’s new film, premiering at the Biennale and forming part of a larger film and media project that was recently recognised with the 2015 Visible Award: a European award for socially engaged artistic practices in a global context.

Most Karrabing live on a rural Indigenous community in the Northern Territory with low or no income. Through screenings and publications, they develop local artistic languages and forms, while allowing audiences to understand new forms of collective Indigenous agency. Their medium is a form of survivance – a refusal to relinquish their country and a means of investigating contemporary social conditions of inequality. The films represent their lives, create bonds with their land, and intervene in global images of Indigeneity. However, their artistic practice necessitates non-governmental support as successive Australian governments have withdrawn assistance from Indigenous worlds – and increasingly disparaged Indigenous forms of knowledge.

After the ca. 30 min screening, a discussion with members of the collective will take place. Introduced and moderated by Tanith Glynn-Maloney, an emerging producer from Alice Springs and the current Development Investment Manager for Screen Australia’s Indigenous Department’s second Songlines on Screen Initiative.

This event is a part of the Not Evenly Distributed series for the 20th Biennale of Sydney, conceived as an opportunity for a timely international discussion about the uneven spread of technologies and resources in the world, access to citizenship and political rights today, and the uses and effects of digital technologies in different geographical, political and social contexts.

This event has been made possible with assistance from the University of Sydney.


Domain Theatre, Art Gallery of New South Wales