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A new multimedia work by a group of young people from different cultural backgrounds in the Sutherland Shire will feature in this year’s Sydney Festival.

The riots in Sydney last December put the Sutherland Shire on the international map, causing shock and heartache for Australians across the country. One year on, the world is still watching and waiting to see what will happen this time around in December. With the anniversary approaching, and continuing incidents of conflict, a group of young people from different cultural backgrounds in the Shire have taken the initiative with a new project that proves that “it’s harder to hurt someone when you know their story”.

Since the riots last year these young people have been meeting regularly, listening to each other’s story, listening to others in the community, and helping to create understanding, respect and empathy. They have been working with photographers, filmmakers, composers, older residents, shipwrights, seafarers, and local business in a project designed to build citizenship and create a strong picture of life in the Sutherland Shire.

The result is a unique new multimedia work for Sydney Festival, called JUNK THEORY. By taking this initiative, the work of these young people will shine a light on the many and varied lifestyles and cultures enjoyed by people who call the Shire home. Last December, many lifestyles and cultures were ridiculed and abused and seen as being of less value than others. They became junk, something to be thrown away and trampled on.

Through JUNK THEORY, young people from the Shire are showing the rest of Sydney that social harmony has to be built on understanding, and understanding comes from knowing each others story.

Every night at dusk from 5 December until 26 January, around the foreshores of Port Hacking, Botany Bay, Sydney Harbour and Pittwater, a Chinese Junk will glide past residents, pedestrians, festival goers and picnickers. Projected onto its sails will be a series of portraits and evocative images of people who live in Sutherland Shire, taken by people who live there. Shot in both colour and black and white, utilizing both still and moving image, the visual projections will be accompanied by music and sound scapes wafting from the vessel’s decks.

JUNK THEORY is designed to create a beautiful and thought provoking picture of the values and cultures that make up our Emerald City, whilst sailing around its beautiful waterways every night.

JUNK THEORY is being created by Big hART – a national arts and social change company that has been making work at the hardest edges of Australian communities since 1992. Big hART experiments with the process of making art with communities, and then placing this work in national and international festivals.

Big hART is one of the most prolific companies in Australia, currently producing seven new works of scale including:

  • Ngapartji Ngapartji (Alice Springs)– the hit of 2006 Melbourne International Arts Festival, and touring to Sydney Opera House and UWA Perth International Arts Festival;
  • Radio Holiday (north west coast Tasmania) touring to Melbourne International Arts Festival and Ten Days on the Island Festival;
  • Street Survivor (Melbourne);
  • GOLD (Griffith and the NSW wheat belt);
  • Lucky and No Comply (North West Coast Tasmania) and
  • The Northcott project StickybrickS (Surry Hills) – a sell-out sensation at the 2006 Sydney Festival.

The Australia Council and Arts NSW formed a partnership to provide support and assistance to the development of long term community arts and cultural initiatives in the South West Sydney area to build greater community harmony. Arts NSW has provided BIGhART with an extra $50,000 and the Australia Council $100,000 towards Junk Theory, which is the first project to be produced, and a number of others will soon be announced.

JUNK THEORY has many partners, sponsors and contributors, and will be launched in Cronulla at Gunnamatta Bay on 5 December, 2006 at 8.30pm. During Sydney Festival JUNK THEORY will be stationary at four locations around Sydney.



Brianna Roberts


(02) 9215 9030


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