Block Autumn 2006 - Navigatiors

14 August 2006 to 28 October 2006
The Semester started on 31 August 2006 and ended on
28 February 2007

Jan van den Berg (NL), Richard Murphet (GB)

Participanting artists:
Andreas Bachmair (D), Tammuz Binshtock (IL/NL), Luc van Esch (NL), Andrew Fremont-Smith (USA), Zhana Ivanova (BG/GB), Sarah van Lamsweerde (NL), Bojana Mladenovic (SRB), Esther Mugambi (AUS), Janneke Raaphorst (NL), Katarina Schröter (D), Voin Voynov (G)

Within the scope of the 400th anniversary celebration of trade relations between Australia and the Netherlands, the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne and DasArts organised a Block in Australia.

As dawn rose in early March 1606, the tiny Dutch ship the Duyfken (Little Dove) prepared to drop anchor off the coast of a land that the captain, Willem Jansz, was to describe later as ‘mainly waste and inhabited by wild, cruel, black and barbarous men’. Sent from the Dutch East Indies settlement in Java to find King Solomon’s gold in the territory known as Nova Guinea, their port in fact was the mouth of a river on Western Cape York, Australia.

400 years ago this year, over 150 years before the Endeavour, the Little Dove was the first European arrival on the shores of the Great South Land, the first encounter between white Europeans and the indigenous people of Australia. For the indigenous communities in the area, the stories of the encounter with the white sailors and the slaughters that followed are still a living part of their culture. The tiny vessel had navigated uncharted waters, sailed into the unknown with no maps, little protection from the elements and only basic navigational aids, arrived in a land unknown to anyone but its inhabitants who had been there for 40,000 years.

In late August 2006, another crew comes to rest where the Little Dove had landed. Their route has not been upon the unpredictable seas of Timor and Arafura but across the ancient landscape of Cape York. Twenty-four young artists from around the globe have embarked on a voyage of discovery of their own. Arriving from countries and cultures of 5 different continents, their trek to the most remote region of Australia cut them loose from any of their comfortable anchor points. Navigators was be an act of creative imagining which rekindles the spirit of voyaging into the unknown. Both an interrogation and a celebration of 400 years of cultural interaction. An intense meditation on the voyages ahead of us all.

The outcome of this artistic voyage of discovery was presented from 19-25 October 2006 in a multi-disciplinary event at the Melbourne International Arts Festival, with public performances at the VCA’s Studio 45 and in the multidisciplinary program of Dutch contemporary arts in Australia: Dutch Dare.