Fallen@Docklands by artist Annee Miron is a site specfic participatory artwork activated at Melbourne Docklands in April 2016.
“It originated as part of Confluence a project intiated by The Front – Deb Bain- King and jointly produced with Wynter Projects – Chantal Wynter. Artists were invited to respond to an aspect of Melbourne Docklands. I researched the pier posts and where they came from. I found there were five East Gippsland tree species and painted their colours onto found cardboard boxes and wove them into a canopy. The boxes themselves are remnants of today’s trade to this geographical place. The ghost forest canopy was activated by myself and many others by lifting and moving underneath it..” Annee Miron.
To see a short video of the performance click here.
As one of the many participants in the performance to activate the “ghost forest canopy” I found it very moving. By activating the canopy of a once magnificent forest, we had the opportunity to reflect on the invisible and hidden histories of the land we live on. The work became an act of memory and homage. By holding the canopy above our heads we paid homage and respect to the forests and trees and especially to the Aboriginal people who cared for those forests. As Annee reminds us, the wooden pier posts were once trees taken from magnificent forests in East Gippsland – forests that once would have been cared for by the traditional owners.
As Bruce Pascoe teaches us in Dark Emu, Aboriginal people managed the land across Australia with great sophistication, including forest management. In her research Annee found the trees were sourced from five different species: yellow stringy bark, yellow box, blue box, grey box and iron bark. Holding up the cardboard canopy that Annee had created, using the colours from the flowers and leaves of those five different tree species and with the filtered light dappling across our bodies, we couldn’t help but remember in that very physical, yet gentle act that we are always standing on aboriginal land and that land and country has not been ceded.
Yet as Bruce Pascoe writes, “Accepting the full history of the country has the benefit of discovering a whole new level of knowledge about sustainable harvests.”