The Mermaids, or Aiden in Wonderland by Karrabing Film Collective is a surreal exploration of Western toxic contamination, capitalism, and human and non-human life. Set in a land and seascape poisoned by capitalism where only Aboriginals can survive long periods outdoors, the film tells the story of a young Indigenous man, Aiden, taken away when he was just a baby to be a part of a medical experiment to save the white race. He is then released back into the world to his family. As he travels with his father and brother across the landscape he confronts two possible futures and pasts embodied by his own tale and the timely narratives of multinational chemical and extractive industries. The psychedelic and fragmented nature of the film reflects the insidious violence that corrupts the psychology of those who are structurally, economically, and politically displaced. As Aiden, a stranger to his own land, is reinserted into existence he becomes acquainted with territorial nature and folklore—mermaids, a bee, a cockatoo bring forth a pertinent inquiry of whose and which lives matter.
Karrabing Film Collective is an indigenous media group consisting of over 30 members, bringing together Aboriginal filmmakers from Australia’s Northern Territory. They use the creation of film and art installations as a form of Indigenous grassroots resistance and self-organization. The collective opens a space beyond binaries of the fictional and the documentary, the past and the present. Meaning “low tide” in the Emmiyengal language, karrabing refers to a form of collectivity outside of government-imposed strictures of clanship or land ownership. Shot on handheld cameras and phones, most of Karrabing’s films dramatize and satirize the daily scenarios and obstacles that collective members face in their various interactions with corporate and state entities. Composing webs of nonlinear narratives that touch on cultural memory, place, and ancestry by freely jumping in time and place, KFC exposes and intervenes into the longstanding facets of colonial violence that impact members directly, such as environmental devastation, land restrictions, and economic exploitation.
The Mermaids, or Aidan in Wonderland (2018), Digital video, color, 25 minutes. Courtesy of the Karrabing Film Collective.
Part of a film program featuring films about the ecological crisis, colonialism, extractivism, capitalism and the complex relations between them.
Next film: Our Ark (2021), Deniz Tortum & Kathryn Hamilton
KIRIK’s 2022 programs are supported by SAHA as part of the Sustainability Fund 2021-2022.