Multimedia installation, sound duration 0:45sec.
Photography by Jessica Clark 2016
Cultural Precinct complete sound work
In 2012 research into the threatened Red Cabbage Palm in Central Australia revealed a migratory pattern previously unknown to contemporary scientists. It suggested the origin of the Palm was one thousand kilometres North, and the only conceivable explanation was that the species was brought down to the region by people between 15,000 and 30,000 years ago. This ‘discovery’ was corroborated when a journal belonging to German Lutheran missionary Carl Strehlow exposed an origin story belonging to local Aboriginal people, confirming a verbal tradition potentially lasting 30,000 years.
Brad Harkin’s work across sound and sculpture explores this intersection between scientific enquiry and Aboriginal systems of knowledge. In Cultural Precinct, Harkin presents archived recounts of the Red Cabbage Palm’s migration, calling us to consider the dissemination of knowledge between generations and the impact of fragmented exchange.
Cultural Precinct draws parallels between the way information has been gathered, stored and accessed and how this affects those seeking to reclaim and reconnect with a culture that has been disrupted or lost. Harkin invites us to question the ways we define ‘culture’, and the stories presented to us by museums.
Brad Harkin is an emerging Adelaide-based artist whose practice centres on our understanding of history and cultural identity. Harkin has exhibited across spaces such as the Contemporary Art Centre of South Australia, the Adelaide Festival Centre and the University of South Australia. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Wesfarmers Arts Indigenous Fellowship with the National Gallery of Australia.
- Joanna Kitto