The Cry of the Burro, listening and seeing otherwise

Three events with Michael Taussig


14th, 15th & 16th Feb, 2019


RSVPs encouraged

Sketch by Carolina Saquel

Sketch by Carolina Saquel



Thursday 14th Feb, 6pm

 The Cry of the Burro

Coming out of time spent in the swamplands of northern Colombia recently, this presentation tries to figure the eerie, nerve-wracking, cry of the donkey at night in connection with paramilitary violence sustaining oil palm plantations there. Just as sugar was to African slavery and the European colonial period, so palm oil is to our times, as can be seen in Indonesia and Malaysia with its devastating effects on environment, local people, and climate change. This talk will play with "shamanic analysis”, emphasising the metamorphic sublime in the Burro's cry that, like Artaud's scream, mimetically resonates with the shape-shifting character of the violence to people and environment as well as with the mimetic cornucopia inherent to palm oil itself.




Friday 15th Feb, 7pm

Screenings: Movement Image :: Time Image :: Sound Image

A conversation in images, co-curated with Lisa Stefanoff.

Featuring short experimental works by Carolina Saquel (France/Chile), Sebastian Lowe (Aus/NZ/Denmark), Grayson Cooke (Aus/NZ) and Dugal McKinnon (NZ) and a special feature screening. Cooke will be present with his work.



Tutto de contrapunto, video, colour, stereo sound, 18’00”, 2014-18.

by Carolina Saquel

A filmic essay concerning ritual, violence and movement in the ritual race “Ardia de San Constantino” in Sardinia. One hundred horses and their riders run a circuit around the Church of St Constantino to commemorate the triumph of the Catholic faith over paganism 2,000 years ago. Multiple immersive cameras located on the legs of riders, on the backs of horses, and on their flexing muscles captue the interaction of bodies at speed.


Te Ao Nui o Ngā Hue (The Wide World of the Gourd), multiple-screen video, colour, stereo sound, 8’14”. 2016.

by Sebastian Lowe

A short experimental film that explores how taonga pūoro (traditional Māori instruments) practitioners come into dialogue with the voices of the atua, or the multiple deities. Made in collaboration with Alistair Fraser and Russell G. Shaw, as part of a wider project on musical composition and perception with taonga pūoro in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Old Growth – a series of 3 art/science audio-video installations by Grayson Cooke combining environmental critique with material enquiry. The series features time-lapse macro-photography of photographic media being chemically destroyed.

 i. Deforest, single channel video, colour, stereo sound, 10’19”. 2015.

Sulphuric acid, a highly corrosive acid that burns to the touch, is used to dissolve photographs of old growth forest from subtropical Queensland.

 ii. Bleach, single channel video, colour, stereo sound, 9’15”. 2016.

Sodium hypochlorite and nitric acid are used to dissolve photographs of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.

iii. Frack, single channel video, colour, stereo sound, 8’41”. 2015.

A kind of ‘virtual fracking’, using chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing to destroy photographs of sedimentary rock.   



2 time/sound works by Grayson Cooke and Dugal McKinnon

This Storm Called Progress, dual-screen audio-visual installation, colour, stereo sound, 15’20”. 2016.

Footage of South Australia’s Naracoorte Caves is juxtaposed against Landsat satellite images of Antarctic ice shelves, and acoustically framed by an electronic score, pitting geological ‘deep time’ against the technologically amplified time of the present.


Metamorphism, multi-channel audio-visual installation, colour, stereo sound, 10’01”. 2018.

A creative reflection on resource extraction and its effects on the environment. It focuses on mining slag waste from the Blinman Copper Mine in the Northern Flinders Ranges of South Australia, as a way of imaging the incredible forces human society and technology exert upon the earth. This project continues a long-standing collaboration between media artist Grayson Cooke and sound artist Dugal McKinnon, investigating the relationship between geological ‘deep time’ and the technologically amplified time of the human.




9 PM


video, colour, stereo sound, 70’00”, 2018.

A mesmerising screen composition produced by Grayson Cooke, energised and harmonised by the combinatory intensities of the paintings and processes of Australian painter Emma Walker, the music of acclaimed audio-time magicians, Australian ‘long jazz’ cult trio The Necks (‘One of the greatest bands in the world’ – the New York Times, 2018), and Geoscience Australia Landsat satellite images of Australia from the ‘Digital Earth Australia’ program.

Trailer -  




Saturday 16th Feb, 2-5pm


Further exploration of ideas and works presented on Days 1 & 2. All welcome. 


Saturday night following workshop. All welcome. BYOG. Participants in the previous events are encouraged to share artful responses at the party. 




Michael Taussig is an Australian-American anthropologist renowned for his provocative and shape-shifting 'ficto-critical’ writings and life-long engagement with the work of Walter Benjamin. A writer, performance maker and imaginative mover through the unseen of complex worlds, he has written extensively about the violence of colonisation, of the state and of late capitalism in Latin America - especially in Colombia where he has lived and researched since the 1960s. His books over the past decade have threaded and unravelled knotted historical and philosophical histories of colour, magic, drawing and lives lived on the hell edges of late liberalism. Most recently he has turned his attention to the ruins of palm oil monocultures.  Mick was in Alice Springs a decade ago and delivered the unforgettable WTS talk, I Swear I Saw This.

More about Mick here