UNSW Galleries

Rachel O’Reilly 


Read our article about the exhibition here.

‘INFRACTIONS’ is a feature length video installation platforming the struggles of frontline Indigenous cultural workers against threats to more than 50% of the Northern Territory from shale gas fracking.  As Australia becomes the leading exporter of planet-warming fossil fuels globally, and Asia and the EU plan to increase fracked gas imports, pressure on this region has intensified, threatening hard-won Aboriginal land rights and homelands.

Plans to ‘Develop the North’ of Australia have been resurrected at different moments since the nineteenth century but abandoned just as quickly for being built on fantasies that related little to the actual behaviour of monsoonal-desert water systems. With the lifting of a state moratorium in 2018, British, US, and homegrown mining companies seek to roll out toxic drilling rigs over vast underground flows, which are key connecting sites of culture, law and food for First Nations.

Refuting capitalist and colonial models of land and water in the driest continent on earth, ‘INFRACTIONS’ features musician/community leader Dimakarri ‘Ray’ Dixon (Mudburra); two-time Telstra Award finalist Jack Green, also the winner of the 2015 Peter Rawlinson Conservation Award (Garawa, Gudanji); musician/community leader Gadrian Hoosan (Garrwa, Yanyuwa); ranger Robert O’Keefe (Wambaya), educators Juliri Ingra and Neola Savage (Gooreng Gooreng); Ntaria community worker and law student Que Kenny (Western Arrarnta); musician Cassie Williams (Western Arrarnta); the Sandridge Band from Borroloola; and Professor Irene Watson (Tanganekald, Meintangk Bunganditj) contributor to the draft UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 1990-1994.

As the camera connects incommensurable legal geographies, extractive industry and labour history to ongoing Indigenous-led resistance and movement, defenders of culture and water from Ntaria (Hermannsburg), Marlinja (Newcastle Waters), Borroloola in Gulf Country, and Yallarm (Gladstone, Queensland) warn of stories of manufactured consent, and Indigenous legal theorist Irene Watson explains the limits of the Western international legal system for planetary survival and justice.

‘INFRACTIONS’ is the final work of The Gas Imaginary (2013–19), a project by artist, writer and curator Rachel O’Reilly that has used poetry, drawing, moving images and lecture formats to explain the legal, aesthetic and technical conceits of ‘unconventional’ gas, in ongoing dialogue with Gooreng Gooreng elders and women environmental activists.

16 Jan - 17 Apr

UNSW Galleries

Cnr Oxford Street and Greens Road Paddington NSW 2021