Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy" [1989]

I was not emotionally ready for this.

If truth be known, I have struggled with this essay (contemporary art and globalisation). The topic is so vast, and encompasses so many aspects of art, that its hard to find focus. I entered this lecture, a little dubious to take in anymore references regarding the essay as i felt i had more than enough to work with already, and anymore information would induce a small scale mental implosion.

The first half of the lecture dealt with transnational feminism, with reference to many artists. During the second half we were shown a short film by Moffatt entitled Night cries: a rural tragedy. The film takes place in an isolated, surreal Australian homestead, in which a middle-aged Aboriginal woman nurses her dying white mother. Primarily concerned with a series of almost static vignettes, Night Cries reiterates many of Moffatt's visual motifs from her still photography - sets, an evocative use of sound and music.

I was completely immersed in this film from the get go. The relationship between the carer and the old woman was particularly poignant to me personally. My grandma has recently had a massive stroke, and needs round the clock care. Its been a very distressing period, and although communication with her is very limited, she has spoke about being a burden, and wanting to end her life. She is hugely frustrated at being trapped in her own body and hates that she needs such intense care. In the film i could relate to the carers frustrations, and the sacrifices she has made, as well as the sadness expressed by the old lady. Waiting to die. This is abit heavy for a blog post. I think i'll move on.

In Night Cries Moffatt attempts to draw ironic or romantic connotations in juxtaposition to the images and narratives, via her use of Jimmy Little who had a role singing at the start and end of the film.  Jimmy was dressed in a typical western outfit singing a hymn and had dark skin, and i later came to learn that he was from the 'stolen generation' in which people of aboriginal descent were conditioned to breed out their roots as part of a Christianity campaign.Moffatt also makes explicit references to Australian art history, drawing parallels between Indigenous history and the recording the landscape by non-Indigenous artists by quoting artists such as Frederick McCubbin's The Pioneer.

In conclusion, I was deeply moved by Night Cries, and if i hadnt been shown this piece in a public lecture environment, I probably would have got upset. That said, I also cried watching Scrubs later that day which says alot about my current emotional stability. It was a beautifully sad film, that left a lasting impact.

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