Constructed Realities is an exercise in geography, writing the landscape in a way that draws on the visual and literary poesis of this country’s imaginary about the land. It seems to pose many questions about what shapes our sense of belonging and place. It asks, at whose expense do we feel at home?
Linda Carolli - Local Art

constructed realities
performance + installation about myth | place | nation | landscape

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"Australia, the arid continent, whose vast inland lake wet once in a generation, is a suburb surrounding a desert - the working man's paradise, sneer English intellectuals, descendants of those who sought to export the dark side of their enlightenment to the other side of the world, where satisfactorily even the swans are black.

Australia the oldest continent, work down by erosion over millennia, until it is a flat substrate out of which protrudes all that resists, a surface whispering with the narrative of a soft regime of care stretching over more than 40 000 years. Now a scabbed, scarred skin, sutured by the straight lines of fences and roads, pock marked with dams.

Australia sunburned, I look at it as I looked at the arms of my mother and now at my own, recognising in each dark stain a beach party, a walk in the bush, an eight-hour car journey to a holiday on a farm.

What in this context is architecture? When we build country houses for the rich in the pockets of unspoiled landscape that remains, we talk of touching the ground lightly, and capture the imagination of a world that does not read the sad story of this land."

Lyons "City of Fictions" - Australia. Venice Architecture Biennale 2000


Where are we? What is left? How are we constructing ourselves in a place that is purely construct?

Although Australians are creating their sense of self continually as we re-shape our cities are re-write our histories, the questions for each of us are not only what but: where is: our place, our culture, our languages, our utopias?

Architecture is all around us - not only in the buildings and urbanisation that we can see and touch. Architecture is about construction. It is about how we form realities. How we construct our place. How we understand ourselves and how we disentangle our selves from mythology and language.

This country is in crisis. This new Australia we live in is at a rare place as the relationship we have to our cities and our landscapes is tenuous.

Other cultures have and established ties between the constructed architecture of cities and the natural architecture of the landscape.

Australian urbanisation has been created in a time when engineering and science allowed our dreams to be realities before we were even sure of them.

Australia has exploded in the last 200 years and it is time to start looking at the debris that is of our making.




"my soul is a strange country" - Randolph Stow

My country's soul is a stranger...
I know the Australian landscape. The true Australian landscape. I know it intimately. Its features are as familiar to me as those of a sibling, or parent, or lover.
The lines of its body are written large upon mine. I can read them: a quarter-acre block; a letterboxes; a Hills-Hoist; a strip of dry lawn facing a suburban street.
The true Australian landscape.
Its bones, carved in steel and glass and concrete, support me.
Its flesh nurtures me, surrounds me, gives me the comfort a mother gives a frightened child; safety; security; familiarity - here an air-conditioned shopping mall; there a dirty ribbon of asphalt or a tightly demarcated corridor of parkland.
It makes me, this country.
It feeds me, sustains me, reminds me.
This is the landscape of home.
The landscape of me. Us.
I am a child of Australia.

What then is this place? And where? When?
Not a home to me, not ever. This wilderness; this desolation; this desert.
I know it too. There is familiarity here, though distant, like the face of a grandparent I never met, whose portrait hangs on the living room wall, gazing down with diffident benevolence - known and yet never known.
It has been promised to me since birth, this land. It has been betrothed to me.
This 'Red Centre'; the 'Dead Heart'; the 'Out - Back' - forever out and forever back, behind and beyond us, as we huddle on the coast, our faces turned to the waters, and to a world that despite the vast oceans and skies between us is closer than this voiceless arid void at our backs.
A barren heartland that is ours only in name, because we proclaim it to be. By force of will and arms have we made it so - to own, but never to possess.
Never to know.


collaborating writer - gordon white


performance team

avril huddy
katie joel
tammy meeuwissen
lisa fa'alfi
fez fannafi

clare dyson
lighting design & production management
mark dyson
llandscape geologist
dr steve hill

nic meadows, 'pling, clare dyson, steve hill

premiered in 2002
at the Brisbane Powerhouse for the live arts

and toured to
Canberra Theatre Centre in January 2003
Canberra Contemporary Arts Space as part of the Metis Art-Science Festival 2004

This work was developed at the brisbane powerhouse, brisbane in 2002 presented a draft showing. It was then toured to the canberra theatre centre, canberra with the support of visionary centre director David Whitney. It was installed in 10 different sites throughout the complex for a two week season.

This work is available to tour and can be installed in any number of configurations within a theatre complex.

please contact the company for more details

supported in partnership with the Brisbane Powerhouse and the Canberra Theatre Centre
funded by Arts ACT as a cross-state collaborative installation project