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Julie Dowling

Journeys aiding memory are something we are all familiar with. For the most part, they take the form of viewing a family photo album or reliving and sharing oral histories. In Julie Dowling’s Oottheroongoo (your country), we are invited to accompany the artist on a recent journey to her ancestral country. As a powerful Nyoongar woman, she has retained a strong sense of identity, maintaining the remnant culture of her Badimaya people in the face of 200 years of European interference.

The four-channel video installation is unashamedly low-tech, using a simple slideshow over musical score. The slides of family members, each of whom were forced away from their culture, act to insert them back into their heritage. Fast-paced video or high-definition images are dismissed in favour of grainy images which evoke a sense of recollection and memory.

Throughout Oottheroongoo, Dowling has interrogated and undermined the systems of disempowerment that generations of her family, particularly women, have been subjected to. Seen in this light, the work is about re-empowerment. This journey ends with Dowling leaving her Badimaya country and returning to Perth, where she continues to live as a strong, informed, urban Badimaya woman in the modern world.

See video
– via YouTube