Co-commissioned with Chunky Move as part of Chunky Move+
Presented in association with Blak Dot Gallery
How do you take representation back? Ngioka Bunda-Heath’s new dance project and photographic exhibition portrays colonial photography from a First Nations’ perspective. A follow-up to her 2019 work, Blood Quantum, interrogating her mother’s story, Birrpai now shifts the focus to her patrilineal heritage.
Birrpai draws parallels between the colonial gaze and today’s selfie culture, combining photography, movement, and storytelling. Bunda-Heath’s father, John Heath, is an Indigenous Historian whose research includes the photographic work of non-Indigenous ‘culturist’ Thomas Dick. Dick, capturing “images of the dying race”, made members of the Birrpai community into museum curios through his series of staged photographs. Collected and archived in museums around the world, these images create chronologically false imageries of families, fabricated and fantasised based on Dick’s colonial imaginaries.
Birrpai reclaims these stories, switching the gaze and refocusing the lenses that have until now publicly framed the artist’s ancestors.
We would like to advise Indigenous Australians that this show’s material may contain images or names of an Indigenous Australians who have passed.
Birrpai is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria, Brunswick Mechanics Institute and the City of Moreland. Chunky Move + is supported by the Besen Family Foundation. This project is supported by Lucy Guerin Inc via a studio residency at WXYZ Studio.
Choreographer and Performer: Ngioka Bunda-Heath
Cultural Consultant and Performer: John Heath
Dramaturge and Movement Director: Joel Bray
Mentor: Carly Sheppard
Sound Engineer: Daniel Nixon
Lighting Designer: Rachel Lee
Production Stage Manager: Stephanie Cox
Ngioka Bunda-Heath is Wakka Wakka, Ngugi from Queensland through her Mother and Birrpai from New South Wales through her Father. Ngioka completed her Advanced Diploma in the Performing Arts (Dance) at the Aboriginal Centre of the Performing Arts and her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Dance) at the Victorian College of the Arts. She is the first Aboriginal Women to graduate from the university in her field.
Ngioka has travelled overseas, dancing in Noumea, New Caledonia with Compine Maado, Banffin Canada as apart of the International Indigenous Dance Residency and took part of the World Dance Alliance in France. She has also performed her own work in Los Angeles as a part of the International Association of Blacks in Dance Conference and Festival and was selected as an Australian Delegate for the Fist Nation Dialogues in NYC as apart of the NYC Festival and APAP.
After graduating VCA, Ngioka accepted a traineeship with Bangarra Dance Theatre teaching in rural Victoria with their Youth Education Program called Rekindling and has been performing and teaching in remote communities all around Australia with the Indigenous Hip Hop Projects.
Ngioka is a founding dancer for Mariaa Randall’s Indigenous female dance Company called DUBAIKUNGKAMIYALK and choreographed her first work Blood Quantum for the YIRRAMBOI First Nations Arts Festival 2019 at Lucy Guerin Inc, WXYZ Studios.