Close to Altona’s wetlands lies a strange landform of humps of earth topped with spikey plants, behind a rusting corrugated iron fence.
Formerly (1901 – 1962) a commercial explosives store, this deserted 17-hectare site has evolved as a contradictory tangle of atmospheres: a warped wilderness with a Victorian homestead; a dangerously contaminated site alive with rare, fragile native vegetation; a place breathing with Indigenous and European histories and values
EPA gave voice and feeling to the site in two nighttime performances:
Ghost voices leaking from half-open rooms; roped ‘barge’ dancers swinging in near-colliding arcs; an Indigenous elder telling stories about Bunjil and the traditional owners, the Yalukit Willum; a European woman describing the making of dynamite; lab-workers waving luminous ‘irradiated’ lights; a woman with a lamp calling to strange-named ships; a detention centre; silhouetted agaves; audience-members lying one by one in a ‘dream factory’ dugout; unearthly sounds from a metallic silver boat played with a bow; crunchy footpaths; and, the moon, shadows, old dynamite cases and the bright shining eyes of thousands of spiders…
“This is the first time I have ever actually felt the presence of history in performance.”
“Lovely to see a production that sees history, in particular the history of ‘here’, as something other than a pretext for costume drama and spectacle.”