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Mapping the wild edge

Nicholas Mills

Nicholas Mills is an artist/designer/writer and is an Arts Project Officer in Cairns.

Rebecca Youdell & Russell Milledge, Bonemap Rebecca Youdell & Russell Milledge, Bonemap
Bonemap’s the wild edge creates a complex, multi-layered, intrinsically real journey of the “ephemeral body” in an ongoing exploration of the contrast between the tropical North Queensland landscape and the “wild edge” of urban and built spaces that we humans inhabit. Using performance, film, exhibition, installation, sound and online art, the 3 performances of this bold, seamless multimedia presentation at the Tanks Arts Centre in Cairns (as part of Australian Dance Week) were a milestone in the project.

the wild edge is a postmodern slideshow of the ‘Deep North’, its beauty, unique man-made intrusions, and curious social and physical contrasts. Using video material documented at sites as diverse as the Chillagoe Marble Mines, the Powerhouse in Brisbane, a cattle station in Toomba and the New Parliament House in Canberra, the collaboration takes place at each juncture, and another layer is created for the evolving work.

Bonemap’s work has involved journeys to the Body Weather Farm in Japan and Australian field trips with Singapore artist Lee Wen. These investigations place the work on another wild edge—the Australian engagement with the Asia Pacific region.

A choreographer and accomplished performer, Rebecca Youdell’s classical dance background informs her current movement practice ever so subtly, while training and discipline is obvious in her total control. Her ability to imitate the spectrum of human-animal expression is boundless. Russell Milledge has made a successful transition from 2D practice into movement, finding his niche in slow-emotion expression. Together, Youdell and Milledge have found a balance in style and form.

The soundscape created by Michael Whiticker and Paul Lawrence illustrates the tension in the movement, while traditional instruments, voice, sound devices and digital editing create an evocative and emotive soundtrack. Whiticker’s dominance and focus on instruments is beautifully complemented by Lawrence’s more discreet and quirky play with various installation elements. Pre-recorded sound also contributes to what amounts to a sophisticated live film score.

Form is a key element: Glen O’Malley’s rich photography provides a classical launch pad for the human body as it traverses film, X-rays, performance, sound and installation. In the ‘round’ of the Tanks, the installation had a decidedly urbane nature, and in itself provided a perfect site to explore: the wall of X-rays dividing the dance floor, the hanging ice block (dripping water, and filled with stones ready to drop into aluminium bowls), rocks, a field of blue tutu’s. The bone, as chief icon, represents decay, the transition between life and death, the connector between ephemeral worlds. Far from being morbid, it symbolises the built presence in the ecological landscape, the natural physical decay that occurs and its inherent beauty.

With shows at the Next Wave Festival in Tokyo, Umbrella in Townsville, and the new Powerhouse in Brisbane, the wild edge will continue to develop. Its flexibility in delivery is embodied in the exploration of various built environments and our habitation of them. Each new site will add another exciting layer to the work.

Bonemap, the wild edge, Tanks Art Centre, Cairns, May 13-21; World Dance 2000, Tokyo, August 1-5, Umbrella Studio, Townsville and Forts, Magnetic Island National Park,?August 14- 27; Brisbane Powerhouse Sept 9-24. [email protected], or go to

Nicholas Mills is an artist/designer/writer and is an Arts Project Officer in Cairns.

RealTime issue #37 June-July 2000 pg. 6

© Nicholas Mills; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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