Karrabing Film Collective
Wutharr, Saltwater Dreams
September 20 – November 22, 2020

HD video, sound
28 minutes and 53 seconds
Courtesy the artists


“The Karrabing Film Collective uses film to analyze contemporary settler colonialism and through these depictions challenge its grip. In the shadow of Third Cinema and Theater of the Oppressed, Karrabing is creating a new model for Indigenous filmmaking and activism.” –Karrabing Film Collective


In the Emmiyengal language, karrabing means “low tide,” and refers to a collectivity outside structures of government, clanship or land ownership. The term also invokes the work of the Karrabing Film Collective, as through film and installation the group addresses and intervenes in legacies of colonial violence which are often shrouded by traditional narratives of history but nonetheless resonate with long standing effects. In Wutharr, Saltwater Dreams (2016), three varied accounts from members of a family are offered to explain the cause of a boat breakdown, engaging with intersecting forces including angered ancestral spirits, state authorities and the bureaucracy of settlement, and Christian faith. Shot on an iPhone, the film offers a tangled and nuanced vision of a forever entwined past and present. The work of the Karrabing Film Collective dramatizes and satirizes the political, social and economic conditions faced by members of the collective. Characteristically fluid in form, the films produced by the group often follow nonlinear structures and allude to the amorphous and transient quality of history and memory. As founding member Elizabeth A. Povinelli reflects in a feature about the Karrabing Film Collective in Art Review, the narratives of the collective’s films engage with a complex understanding of the past and present, fact and fiction, as “it’s a story, but it’s real…not exactly what happens but what happens.”


Wutharr, Saltwater Dreams was streamed online from September 20-November 22, 2020. 


Further reading:


Ben Eastham, “Karrabing Film Collective,” ArtReview, January 1, 2020


Elizabeth A. Povinelli, “Geontologies: The Figures and the Tactics,” eflux Journal #78, December 2016


Elizabeth A. Povinelli, “Geontologies: The Concept and Its Territories,” eflux Journal #81, April 2017


Karrabing Film Collective “Wutharr: Saltwater Dreams,”’ Introduced by Vivian Ziherl, Vdrome