Fremantle Biennale: Film: Pearls & Blackbirds

10 September 2019

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1 – 24 November @ NWS Shipping Theatre, WA Maritime Museum ·
Presented by Kelsey Ashe ·

Filmed underwater in the seas around Fremantle, ‘Pearls and Blackbirds’ examines both dark and light undercurrents of WA’s historically significant pearling industry through contemplation of the lives and stories of female Aboriginal pearl divers and Japanese migrants that traversed through the port of Fremantle and Northern WA in the late nineteenth century. The commercial pearling industry transformed Northern WA into a prime colonial outpost of trade, and Fremantle into a flourishing multi-cultural port town, flushed with the affluence of ship building Pearl Luggers and off-season Pearl Masters spending their new fortunes.

‘Pearls and Blackbirds’ imbues an overdue acknowledgement of the collective histories of trauma and sorrow, whilst also imagining a visceral and mysterious underwater world. The film is a meditation on immense beauty and pain, humanity and redemption. It provokes difficult, yet transformative conversation by adding expressive voices to this significant era in WA history, helping to shape our cultural imagination, sense of belonging and identity.

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Pictured: Kelsey Ashe

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Maureen Levy

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