deadstream_TV Episode 5
Digital film 2.11sec 
Re-projected onto mud and blood
Still image by Danni Zuvela

“We are inviting our souls, but we are also acknowledging that mother earth is so important. It’s our source, it’s our survival. It gives us the food, it gives us the air, it gives us the water that we drink. It’s so valuable and it’s slowly being destroyed.” – Uncle Bruce Shillingsworth  

“After just 230 years of colonial mismanagement, ancient river systems are in grief; over-extracted, commodified, depleted and disrespected. Our rivers are being bled out.” – Libby Harward


Water is our lifeblood and we need to protect and look after it, as it looks after us. 

First Nations people of this country have been holding cultural responsibilities to sustain our waterways from the beginning of time. Yet after just 230 years of colonial mismanagement, our ancient river systems are in grief; over-extracted, commodified, depleted and disrespected. From the speculative marketplace in water futures to rorting of water allocations, excessive irrigation IS colonial violence. Our rivers, in other words, are being bled out.

deadstream_DABILBUNG (broken water) presents deadstream_TV: a selection of film and sound works centring the issues facing fresh and saltwater country and culture.

The “wild”-flower season 2019 began my journey with my two children, through what is known in contemporary western terms as “The Murray-Darling Basin” (The Baaka and The Bidgee), on a project that longs to restore traditional custodianship of our fresh-water-ways: the rivers, creeks, lagoons, channels and wetlands that are currently threatened with imminent extinction. Following the footsteps of my Ancestors, we began this journey on my Ancestral country, beautiful Mulgumpin, in the Quandamooka, spending time with my Ngugi Elder, Gheebelum, Uncle Bob Anderson, listening with my children and reflecting-in fresh-water stories. 

In Oct 2019, we took a 2800km, 12-day road trip, crossing at least 10 of the 27 Aboriginal Nations that make up the Murray-Darling Basin, to join the Yaama Ngunna Baaka Corroboree, with Uncle Bruce Shillingsworth. We listened to the fresh-water stories of Traditional Custodians, in order to join the call to reinstate Traditional Custodianship over these hungry water-ways, and help expose the forces that are starving and choking them.

In March 2020 my work hit a bend in the river due to the restrictions forced upon us by COVID 19. I was gifted a shift in my focus that gave me a sense of urgency to present and archive the conversations I had with traditional custodians and allowed the time to re-imagine the production of these works for an online output. Due to the home schooling requirements, I was also able to continue the involvement of my children in the realisation of the work, so their footprint is now not only on the creative development, but also they are co-creators of some of the final works.

Listening is integral to reinstating Indigenous governance, and these audio and visual works in this stream include opportunities for extended attention with re-projection and amplified soundscapes. These are works of expanded sound and vision in which you, the spectator, are invited to listen with your eyes, and your ears.  

deadstream_TV is an experiment in online gallery practice.

It is also a kind of spiritual blood-letting, through which thoughts – concepts – conversations – and First Nations perspectives – may flow.