Monument for the flooding of Royal Park, 2008

SD video projection, 8 minutes, silent, and site specific vinyl sign, 370 x 800cm.

Exh.: _Finalists exhibition for the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture 2008, _Federation Square, Melbourne, 12-24 November 2008.

Monument for the flooding of Royal Park centres on a looped 8-minute video projection. This video describes the proposed monument, which focuses on nardoo, the plant which Burke and Wills furiously consumed during their final days around Cooper’s Creek. They were introduced to the Yantruwanta habit of making cakes from nardoo sporocarp but failed to observe the correct preparation of the seed, mainly due to Burke’s antipathy towards Aboriginal culture and his hostility towards any reliance upon it. Without roasting, the sporocarp contains high levels of thiaminase, which disables human digestion by destroying Thiamine, ultimately resulting in apoptosis, the self-programmed death of cells in the body. Burke and Wills both starved even as they spent most of their final days preparing and consuming copious quantities of nardoo cakes.

Monument for the flooding of Royal Park is a proposition for the scattering of nardoo sporocarp throughout Royal Park. In the event of flooding, these sporocarp become fields of nardoo fern. As the flood waters recede and the plant dries out, they become vast fields of intense red, a carpet which temporarily covers the expanses of the park. This drying out again disseminates the sporocarp, which can survive for up to 30 years in the ground before their growth is activated again by floodwaters.

In the video, this proposed Monument is described in parallel to a sequence of archival photographs of different Burke and Wills monuments in and around Melbourne (including images of Summers’ monument in its various locations around the city). A short sequence of footage which I shot in Royal Park on the day of the smoke-storm in December 2006 – the only moving image material in the video – is the work’s epilogue.

Click here for the entire textof the video Monument for the flooding of Royal Park.



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