Latitudes – 151ºE
Exploring the need to travel and the formation of identity as an artefact of this process. Focusing on themes of distance, travel, and journeys, this film features prose by Claire Cao, video work by Gillian Kayrooz, and score by BLESSED.
Latitudes weaves together nine artistic commissions from A.Girl, BLESSED, Claire Cao, Eda Gunaydin, Gillian Kayrooz, Mo Aung, Nerdie (1300), Sela Vai, and Serwah Attafuah in three dynamic short films that explore themes of audibility, distance and perspective. 151ºE is the second video in the series.
We walk and we walk till we see green slopes jutting into marble steps, a Kuanyin temple flanked by two stone lions. Sewage water bubbles under the Canley train bridge into Cabra and Fairfield, winding towards a horizon of fibro houses.
‘Mrs Thompson says the creek's named after an orphanage that used to be here,’ Mei tells me. ‘Back in the olden days, when little kids got bitten by Redbacks and died on the banks.’
‘This place is full of ghosts.’
‘Nah as if,’ I say. ‘I've never even seen a Redback.’
I didn't believe in ghosts, but I knew all about death: cats and possums laid out on the main roads, their guts trailing against the tar. Tommy Le from down the street who OD'd first year uni. The faded memory of Gong Gong swaddled in clove-and-menthol scented blankets; my hand crushed in the icy clamp of his. He was so far away from home, already a sepia photograph, but his strength had been surprising.
Gripping and gripping, until suddenly, I was released.
But then, something new.
A calico cat struts past us with a dead bat rolled up in her mouth. We watch as she devours her prey chunk by fleshy chunk. The bat twitches and spasms, pistoning its wing skyward.
Finally, finally, after waiting and yearning and filming the same patch of bush for ages, we got something.
A bike bell chimes.
A moth fries itself against fluorescence with a single zap.
We wake up.
We stumble home.
– Claire Cao
Writer, editor and critic Claire Cao lives and works in South-West Sydney. She is currently the film editor for The Big Issue and the 2022 New Critic Award recipient for Kill Your Darlings. On screen, Claire has written for the feature film Here Out West, has edited fiction for Voiceworks, was mentored at MIFF’s Critics Campus 2019 and was runner-up for the LIMINAL Fiction Prize.
‘My piece was inspired by my exploratory and playful upbringing in Canley Vale and ... the ghosts that haunt every pocket of Australia. Growing up, I was sequestered in my neighbourhood ... by trying to find beauty and joy in my surroundings, I instead stumbled upon the dense histories of how people came to be here, and the lives of those who came before. I hope people realise that their surroundings are infinitely more mysterious and energising than they know, no matter how your postcode is characterised.’
Ghanaian-born artist BLESSED is taking over the scene, amalgamating all that he loves in music: from RnB to gospel, punk to lo-fi. This multi-talented singer, rapper, guitarist, and producer is carving a distinct sound that has attracted collaborations with Amaarae, The Kid LAROI, and multiple songs featured on the Netflix series On My Block. Breaking the barriers of what traditional hip hop should look and sound like, BLESSED has recently released his debut album AUSSIE BLACKSTAR which he launched at the Sydney Opera House for VIVID 2022.
‘The inspiration for the sonic bed was a combination of the visual tone and pace mixed with Tanya and Jason’s thematic message behind this creation. I want people to feel the blend of emotions, whether consciously or subconsciously. Western Sydney is truly the heart and hub for culture in Australia.’
Departing from her lived experience, Gillian Kayrooz’s practice reflects on notions of history, place, and community. Her installation, video and photographic work has been shown extensively in solo and group exhibitions across Australia, including at Firstdraft, Casula Powerhouse, Artspace and MAMA (forthcoming). Kayrooz has undertaken artistic residencies at Chengdu Academy of Fine Arts, the Sapporo Tenjinyama Artist Studio, the Tokyo ARTnSHELTER precinct, and Parramatta Artists’ Studio.
'The idea that the Western Sydney creative scene is only just now taking off is a fallacy. We have been working hard for years, decades and if not generations, and are always willing to take the leap, along with the journey.'
This film was created and filmed on Darug, D’harawal, Gadigal and Wiradjuri Country. The creators of this film acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land and their continuous connection to Country, community and storytelling. We pay respect to Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.
Words by Claire Cao
Music by BLESSED
Visual art by Gillian Kayrooz
A Subversus series commissioned by Powerhouse
Directed by VERSUS (Tanya Babic & Jason Sukadana)
Commissioning editors: Callum Cooper, Lisa Havilah, Lisa Ffrench
Creative producer: Cara Stewart
Program producer: Nikki Brogan
Creative directors: Tanya Babic & Jason Sukdana
Production company: Subversus
Cinematography: Brad Jarrett
Senior producer: Justine Moyle
Editor: Sean McDermott
Colourist: Matt Fezz
Title design: Huy Nguyen
1st AC: Steivan Hasler
2nd AC: Edmund Renew
Steadicam operator: Julius Koivistoinen
Gaffer: Matt Wilson
Best boy: Harleigh English
Art directors: Tanya Babic & Jason Sukadana
Runner/PA: Amber Rose
BTS stills: Katie Cao
Sound design: Mara Schwerdtfeger
Sound mix: Weronika Razna
Voiceover sound recordist and engineer: Guy Fenech, Calico Sound
Thanks to our location partners: Fairfield City Council, Blouza Hall, Mali and Melvin Ang
With thanks to the Powerhouse collections team:
Lucy Clark, Bronwyn Dunn, Meredith Freeman, Craig Hull, Nathan Mudyi Sentance, Nick McNamara, Brianna Ranieri, Tom Wilcox and Scott Winston
Special thanks to: VA Digital Hire, Martin Ang, Natalie Ang, Matt Carter, Harry Jun, Amy Kayrooz, Frances Kayrooz, Liz Kayrooz, Stuart Kayrooz, Alex Parnell, Ayeesha Ash, Campbell Bickerstaff, Damian McDonald, Stella Palmer and Ramona Telecican.