Making and Doing Karrabing Filmmaking and the Aesthetic of Survivance

Elizabeth Povinelli, Colombia Univeristy

Sydney 2018: Knowing and governing

Begun in 2008, in the shadow the Australian state’s assault on Indigenous social worlds and lands, The Karrabing Film Collective is a grassroots Indigenous based arts and film group who use their aesthetic practices as a means of self-organization and social analysis. In Emmiyangal, karrabing refers to the saltwater tide when it reaches its lowest reach. There is nothing low about the tide reaching karrabing. All kinds of potentialities spring forward. A deep karrabing opens a shorter passage between mainland and islands. In some places, reefs rise as the water recedes. A road is revealed. Most Karrabing live on a rural Indigenous community in the Northern Territory with low or no income. Their films and art works represent their lives, create bonds with their land, and intervene in global images of Indigeneity. They develop local artistic languages and forms, while allowing audiences to understand new forms of collective Indigenous agency. Their medium is a form of survivance – a refusal to relinquish their country and a means of investigating contemporary social conditions of inequality.