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As part of The Art of Healing exhibition programme, Sonal Kantaria will be in conversation with Dr Ian Henderson, Director of the Menzies Australia Institute at King's, discussing her work in Yamaji country over the past 6 years and the continuing relationship with the region and prominent Elders in the mid-west of Western Australia. The discussion will focus on notions of landscape and exile that are aspects of a lived experience with the Elders in the region.

The Snake by Sonal Kantaria

'The Snake takes place in Greenough Flats, the terrain in the mid-west of Western Australia, both an Aboriginal mythological site and a place of a massacre during colonisation. I ask the spectator to experience this landscape through the film, to consider the work in its context: both the fox and snake were found on a landscape of significance to the local Yamaji communities. It was the first time that I had travelled to this site with Gordon Gray, Noongar Elder, who was in search of songlines in the local area.

As we moved up the mound, we found a native King Brown snake with its head severed. In a fable-like way, we deduced that the snake had poisoned the fox and in turn, the fox had severed the head of the snake. In this battle between a non-native and a native animal, the two bodies had diminished and were laid bare in the landscape. I filmed the snake, its camouflaged, inert body blending into the arid landscape. Large ants were furiously feeding off the carcass until only a skeletal presence remained. It had been ravished by what seemed like a cruel fate, but this was the law of the bush.

I am asking the spectator to be an active participant, to contemplate the stillness of the moment, a stillness as a facet of Indigenous Knowledge.'

Held in the Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art, Perth.

About Sonal Kantaria

Sonal Kantaria is a PhD candidate in Film Studies. Her thesis explores 'Indigenous Knowledge', connecting the experience of working with Yamaji Elders in Western Australia (a process begun in December 2013), relevant film scholarship and theory, and her own practice as a photographer and filmmaker.

Her film and photography work has been exhibited both in the UK and internationally. Most recently her film work After the crow flies was screened at Ikon Gallery, UK (2018) and at the Whitechapel Gallery, UK (2017). The film was also selected for the BAFTA recognised Aesthetica Film Festival, UK (2016).

Sonal has completed artist residencies in Western Australia at Perth Institute for Contemporary Art(2015), the City of Greater Geraldton (2014) and at the Perth Centre for Photography in Australia (2013.

She has worked as a visiting lecturer at the London College of Communication, the University of Westminster and the University of Hertfordshire, UK and as a visiting academic at Curtin University in Western Australia.

Find out more about Sonal Kantaria by visiting her website.

Event details

Lecture Theater 1
Bush House
Strand campus, 30 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BG