Finalist - New Wave Short Film Festival 2021 Munich GERMANY
Gülsen Özer, Vanessa White and Ania Reynolds
Split Rock is a site responsive video artwork engaging in local history, geology and mythology. In the work Gülsen Özer an Australian dance and interdisciplinary artist of Turkish and Aboriginal heritage explores dynamics of power and connection, performing durational choreographies that invite new ways of connecting to place. Similarly the filming techniques used in the work re-imagine our bodies’ engagement with, and contributions to, ecological assemblages. Through a process of mining historical data and mingling it with speculative fictions, collaborators Gülsen Özer, Vanessa White and Ania Reynolds, render this research into a poetic form.
About the art work:
In the work the dancer performs durational choreographies that invite new, ways of connecting to place. Similarly the film techniques used in the work re-imagine our bodies’ engagement with, and contributions to, ecological assemblages.
One of the critical elements of the video work is the interpretation and visualisation of corporeal and non-verbal experience; finding new ways to document and communicate the unspoken and ineffable. The reformulation of the body in motion explores uncanny effects, producing new, visceral possibilities and meaning. Various forms of creative expression are integrated in the work to provide conceptual fluidity and material flexibility. The final form and narrative structure is embedded in the imagery of the landscape and environment.
In collaboration Gülsen, Vanessa, and Ania examine gesture and form of the body in space suffused with sound and music. The three artists from different artistic backgrounds combine to provide a substantive addition to the lexicon of possible meaning for audiences witnessing this artwork.
About the Geological and Historical influences:
The performance, choreography, filming and editing within the artwork is enhanced by a considered engagement with the earth sciences, as well as other historical data. The rocky outcrops pictured in the work are all within the 'Tynong Batholith'; a large geographical area of granite rock, mostly still deep beneath the earth formed by magma. They have been subject to ‘mechanical weathering’, also called ‘physical weathering’ and ‘disaggregation’. This is one of the predominant causes for granite rocks, such as those depicted in the film, to crumble. For instance, in mechanical weathering liquid water can seep into cracks and crevices in rock. If temperatures drop low enough, the water will freeze. When water freezes, it expands. The ice then works as a wedge. It slowly widens the cracks and splits the rock. When ice melts, liquid water performs the act of erosion by carrying away the tiny rock fragments lost in the split. Other mechanical weathering includes the small growth of flora, such a moss and trees that can also enlarge cracks in rocks. Another is salt, which can also get into cracks and break rocks apart.
The highest altitude location for this film is Mount Cannibal. The naming history of Mount Cannibal comes from a corruption of the Aboriginal word ‘couna’ meaning ‘forehead’ and ‘bal’ meaning ‘he’ or ‘she’. This refers to the head-like shape of the Mount Cannibal rocky outcrop. ‘Counabal’ was an important navigational marker for Aboriginal people and it continues to be a significant landmark and nature reserve for Aboriginal people. This granite outcrop is one of the largest displays in southern Victoria and the large boulders located here are over 350 million years old.
Choreographer/Dancer – Gülsen Özer
Video – Vanessa White
Music – Ania Reynolds
Fatima Almeida – Project management support
Tracey Burrows – Research; Geology
Tony and Gai Fitzgerald – Local knowledge
Fergus Floyd – Filming Assistance
Dr. John Floyd – Research; Mechanical weathering of Granite
George Fry – Local knowledge/Aboriginal knowledge
Janine Good – Research; Geology
Kristen Jackson – Pandemic Response Team/Location access
Sue Jarvis – Local knowledge
Upper Beaconsfield Community – Facebook Group/Local knowledge
Special thanks to
Thora Solveig Bergsteinsdottir
Cr Jeff Springfield
We are grateful for opportunity to work on the traditional land of the Kulin Nation. We acknowledge and pay respect to Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia; to Elders and all Aboriginal people, acknowledging sovereignty was never ceded.
Gulsen Ozer, Vanessa White and Ania Reynolds
This artwork was created with funding by the Cardinia Council during the 2020 COVID 19 pandemic and in accordance with the relevant COVID 19 restrictions at the time of shooting.
Contact the artists: