Nocturnal Indigenous Australian Dancers. New installation in London E11

Dancers in loincloths and traditional clothes, moving energetically in a very dusty environment that is lit by an artificial light at the back of the picture, roughly eye-height

Traditional dancers in nocturnal desert dust, (c) Carole Edrich 2014


This image of native Australian dancers is part of the one in my Leytonstone Arts Trail installation  Printed on oilcloth, it is over 4m wide and 2m hight. I chose to hang it in an outdoor alley to reflect the difficulty of taking the photo and of sharing the images and what I learned about the culture, in ways that discourage the more common forms of cognitive bias.

I shot it around midnight on the second of a three-day event, at what is probably the largest Aboriginal Australian gathering for law and culture. It is a regular gathering and around 20 tribes from NW Australia and its environs meet every 2-3 years and its location changes.

This one was near Fitzroy Crossing, although in a country the size of Australia, ‘near’ doesn’t mean quite what it would to most Europeans. North Western Australia is about a million kilometers squared, the whole country 7.692 kilometers squared. For reference, Spain is about half a million kilometers squared and the UK around a quarter of a million.

Traditional indigenous Australian cultures can trace coherence back over 10,000-40,000 years and uses no writing. Everything is recorded and taught through dance, song, and sometimes the spoken word.

Corroborees such as this are used to socialise, gain consensus for new laws (not done as a European would imagine), teach others, meet and exchange ideas, and to celebrate the recovery of their culture, much of which was lost through the appalling behaviour of successive white governments and those complicit with them.

There is kudos in the style of movement and dust raised, but no competition involved. I was one of maybe 10 white people and 3,000 locals, invited for my photography.

This corroboree was facilitated by KALACC.

Image on display until July 20th, 2021 is one of a series created by Carole Edrich.


For more information on indigenous Australian culture check out the book Songlines, and for an example of what many of these people have gone through the film Rabbit Proof Fence.