Brad Harkin’s work—Palm Valley—in CACSA Project Space performed similarly to Foley and Wing’s except that the ‘fascinator’ aspect was genuinely interesting in itself and suggestive about its subject, Palm Valley, as a distant locale and a specific eco-environment—but more importantly as an instance of indigenous knowledge and its reach and its own endangerment. There were two sculptural representations of the valley (about 30 cms square, both): one in glass, a computer modeling of the rise and fall off terrain, lit from behind so as to glow in a jewel-like way and to invite the viewer’s curiosity as to its detail, how intricately it was made, the exact medium etc. The other piece may have been the same or similar modeling, but in this case not mounted on the wall but atop a plinth. It was black and seemed liquid and shiny as though it may have been oil or hot tar. Lit from above it was also made jiggle and tremor just slightly by the amplified sound of the soundtrack beneath it (an account of the location I think). Their physical form had both appear as wondrous and mysterious. The valley was the site of an endangered species of palm whose origin always puzzled the white community who had ignored indigenous memories. The latter had become quite attenuated themselves—influenced and suppressed as they were by the European Mission authority. DNA comparisons now make it clear that the tree was brought a thousand kilometres or so southwards some 15 to 30 thousand years ago, as indigenous accounts had stated.
- Ken Bolton