Nyarri Nyarri Morgan is a Martu man from the Western Desert who lives in the remote Parnngurr Community of Western Australia. He lived his early life with no knowledge of or contact with western culture. Then, in the 1950s, he witnessed first hand – and with no warning or context – an atomic test held by the British government in the South Australian desert.
It was an experience that had a profound impact on Morgan and, half a century later, led him into a collaboration with a Sydney-based immersive technology artist and director, Lynette Wallworth. His story is now the subject of a virtual reality film, Collisions, which Wallworth directed.
Collisions drops audiences right in the middle of the Pilbara desert – home of Morgan and of the Martu people. This conversation at ACMI will take Morgan’s experience filming Collisions as a starting point for a broader discussion of the issues facing the Martu people in this remote region of Western Australia. Joined by Wallworth, Nyarri's wife Nola and young filmmaker and Martu leader Curtis Taylor, Morgan will speak about his life, his work as an artist and the fate of the Martu people since the actions in Collisions took place.
An activist elder who has seen his community through some dramatic changes, a speaker of seven Western Desert languages, an artist whose work has been exhibited across the world and whose story is now being shared through virtual reality – meet this extraordinary Australian and his family for a discussion of culture, contention, creativity and collaboration.
Presented in partnership with the ACMI and Melbourne Festival.
Nyarri Nyarri Morgan is a senior Martu elder, leader and artist whose works have been exhibited in Australia, Europe, and the United States. Nyarri speaks seven Western Desert languages.
Nyarri was born Myirr Myirr and walked around with his family in the desert of the tri-state area until 1963 when he then came into contact with Len Beadell who was opening up the desert regions for the blue streak rocket tests. In the late 1970s, Martu people began reclaiming their homelands and Nyarri and his family started a camp at Parnngurr to protest a uranium mine against CRA. The families lived in humpies, and the first building they built in the new community was a school. This still thriving community is where Collisions is filmed.
Nola was born on the western side of Lake Percival. She and her family travelled to Karlamilyi and Parnngurr, and in the 1960s, her uncle brought them to Balfour Downs Station; the station manager took them to Jigalong. Nola moved to Parnngurr when the community was established in 1985. She is a painter and one of the senior translators and cultural advisors on the Canning Stock Route Project.
Curtis Taylor hails from Parnngurr Community, located 400km east of Newman, Western Australia. Curtis is a filmmaker, screen artist and a young Martu leader. Growing up in the remote Martu desert communities and in the city, Curtis has gained both traditional Martu knowledge and a Western education.
Curtis was the recipient of the 2011 Western Australian Youth Art Award and Wesfarmers Youth Scholarship and his screen work has been shown in international film festivals, including the 2012 Nepal International Indigenous Film Archive Festival. Currently Curtis is undertaking film and media studies at Murdoch University in Perth.
Lynette Wallworth is a multiple Emmy® Award-winning Australian artist and filmmaker whose immersive video installations and film works reflect on the connections between people and the natural world. She has been awarded a UNESCO City of Film Award, the Byron Kennedy Award for Innovation and Excellence, and in 2016 she was named by Foreign Policy magazine as one of the year’s 100 Leading Global Thinkers. Wallworth’s most recent VR works have been developed at the invitation of Indigenous communities.