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Kepa Kalyakoorl—Aquiferous

Sandra Harben, Cara Teusner-Gartland, Daniel Jan Martin

Kepa Kalyakoorl—Aquiferous

Immerse yourself in glowing and moving springs of light and sound, mapped into the space of the Old Customs House. Inviting awe and curiosity, this commission connects to water through a deep acknowledgement of place.

Winja noonook bidi wah? Nguny kepa bidi.
Where is your path? My path is the water path.

Duba Kan Koorliny! Nidja Kepa nyinniny Kalyakoorl.
Walk slowly and softly, and here the water will sit forever.

Walking together through place and time, experience the portals to deep waters. To the aquifers, the groundwaters, the water table beneath the city. Here, the water will sit forever. Kepa Kalyakoorl.

Set at Old Customs House and at sites all along the Bilya – Swan River, Kepa Kalyakoorl – Aquiferous asks: what lies beneath our city?

Immerse yourself in glowing and moving springs of light and sound, mapped into the space of the Old Customs House. Inviting awe and curiosity, this new commission imagines the deep waters flowing through Bilya. Breathing, shifting, shaping into deep time. What footprint will you leave in the Noongar universe?

Kepa Kalyakoorl – Aquiferous is a collaboration between interdisciplinary artist Cara Teusner-Gartland, environmental designer Daniel Jan Martin and Whadjuk Nyoongar woman Sandra Harben. With Freda Ogilvie, Bianca Harben and Clancy Martin.

Artists bios:
Cara Teusner-Gartland
Cara Teusner-Gartland is an interdisciplinary artist based in Walyalup – Fremantle. Her practice is grounded in studies of site, situation and storytelling. Engaging with painting, expanded drawing, sculpture, installation, sound and written word, Cara documents and builds a holistic familiarity with urban landscapes, interior spaces, and underlying local narratives.
Completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Curtin University in 2018, Cara has since presented work for Clyde & Co Art Awards, the Kennedy Prize, (cross)hatched (2018), Galvanise (2019), Propel KickstART (2020), and (e)merging (2020). She recently produced a body of work for a 2021 group exhibition, Healing and Repair, at PS Art Space. Cara has also volunteered and performed in multiple projects across the first two years of the Fremantle Biennale: HIGH TIDE 2017 and UNDERCURRENT 2019.

Daniel Jan Martin
Daniel Jan Martin is an environmental planner and designer practising in Perth, Western Australia. He teaches and researches in architecture and landscape architecture at the UWA School of Design. Between geospatial and architectural scales, he demonstrates how we can work with and repair the natural systems in our cities and suburbs. A passion for environmental communication drives Daniel’s work – sharing, translating and advocating for harmony between our cities, water systems and ecosystems.
Daniel studied in architecture, environmental design and music at The University of Western Australia and at Lund University, Sweden. Recent work includes the online environmental resource Whole Perth Catalogue (launched 2019), the immersive ecological exhibition Swampscapes (2019) and the book publication In Time With Water: Design Studies of 3 Australian Cities (2019), exploring design with water in Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane, published by the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities.

Sandra Harben
Sandra Harben is a Whadjuk and Balardong Nyoongar woman. Sandra is the principal of Richmond Consultancy, which facilitates cross-cultural awareness training workshops (CCWTW) throughout the South West and metropolitan areas. Sandra has undertaken extensive community and stakeholder engagement as a member of the Whadjuk Working Party for the WA Museum.

The installation in the 'Old Customs House' is not easy to understand.
Here is how I think it is set up.
There are six 'mini-sites' in the Customs House main room, with lights and speakers both above and below holes in the floor, in which are reflective containers with a small amount of water in each.
I think the audio is meant to direct the visitors (to physically move) from one mini-site to each other, to listen to the text relevant to one of the six mini-sites. [Wrong. See update below.]
Each mini-site corresponds (I think) to one of six sites along the river, from Blackwall Reach - Djendalup - to the extreme western end of Victoria Quay (which is also the most western remnant of Arthur Head).
The audio at each of the mini-sites in the Customs House is (I think) the same as that played at each of the six sites along the river, proceeding downstream, which (I think) corresponds to a progression around the Customs House room—possibly clockwise—but I couldn't confirm that. [I was right about the text, wrong about the progression. See update below.]

Visitors to the Customs House are given a (circular) sheet with a stylised map of the river on one side, showing the six audio sites. The opposite side shows (all of?) the text broadcast (presumably) at each of the physical sites along the river, and also at each of the representative mini-sites in the Customs House room.

I may have got some of the above wrong, and apologise to the artists if I have. I think that the takeaway message from the installation is very significant (water is important, and we should look after it), and I wish it was more accessible. I'll attempt to reproduce images of the site's graphics here. I hope you get the idea from my compressed snaps. I take the opportunity to thank 'staff' member (artist) Rebecca, who spoke to me eloquently about Daniel's concept.

UPDATE. On my third visit, I looked (that is, listened) for the directions I imagined might have been given by the order of the audible events in the installation. But although the sequence begins in one corner, it does not proceed in any obvious order (such as clockwise) after that. As, for one reason or another (the original recording or the performance space), there is quite a lot of reverberation, it's not possible to hear clearly the words spoken (and most of them are in Nyoongar) — so most visitors will get at best only a vague idea of what is going on.

References and Links

Top image from Cara Teusner-Gartland's Instagram page.

Daniel Jan Martin's website.

It's helpful also to listen to Daniel Jan Martin's section of the Fremantle Biennale 2021 audio tour(s)—the 8th audio.

Garry Gillard | New: 14 November, 2021 | Now: 20 August, 2023