Laka is a multi-platform project with three components: a feature film, an audio-visual installation and a virtual reality experience. The project is a collaboration between Australian artists S. Shakthidharan and Rosealee Pearson, and their Sri Lankan and Yolngu families in Sydney and Arnhem Land respectively. Collectively the works immerse audiences in Hindu and Yolngu worldviews and histories, showcase rarely explored connections between the two cultural systems, and imagine possible manifestations of Australia’s ancient, as well as contemporary, interculturalism.
Laka was developed in Western Sydney in 2015. The film and installation works were shot in Sydney, Brewarrina and Arnhem Land in 2016. In 2017 these works went into post-production, and the VR works went from concept development through to completion. Laka premiered in 2018, previewing at Biames Nunnghu Festival in Brewarrina in April and premiering at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre in Sydney in July.
It is currently touring internationally and across Australia through the film festival circuit and a commission from Streaming Museum’s A View from the Cloud program. So far, it’s toured in Sydney (Winda Film Festival), Darwin (screening at Deckchair Cinema), Los Angeles (Red Nation Film Festival) and Toronto (Vox Popular Media Arts Festival), where it received a People’s Choice Award.
Laka is part of the Colony body of work – a universe of interconnected stories that span pre-colonial times to the 22nd century.
Laka is a cross-cultural love story that starts with a first kiss in the suburbs of Sydney and ends with a bush birth in the Arnhem land wilderness.
For too many years, Lily, a Yolngu woman from the Northern Territory, has supressed her yearning to go home. Now heavily pregnant, visions of her ancestral land have taken over her waking life. Lily believes it’s her unborn child calling out to her, entreating her to be born on country. Lily’s husband Siddhartha, a Sri Lankan Australian, is unwilling to disrupt their stable life in Sydney, forcing Lily to choose between her land and her love. She chooses her land. One night Lily leaves Siddhartha, and begins the long drive back home to Arnhem Land…
LAKA FEATURE FILM POSTER
Who are we when we dream? Dreams do away with linear time; they can take us to a place where past, present and future co-exist; where our ancestors and descendants are side by side. In our dreams, the artifice of modern urban life can be stripped away; we can recall and feel our innate connection to the natural world with greater clarity.
Laka: Dream is a four-channel audiovisual work made for large screens or projection surfaces and immersive sound. In addition to the national touring dates, CuriousWorks is working with Streaming Museum in New York to take Laka: Dream to screens around the world through their global curatorial program A View from the Cloud.
virtual reality artwork
Dark, magical and intimate, Laka: Creation immerses audiences in an other-worldly, womb like space, where they hear a mother whisper to her unborn child a story of how the universe came into being. One experience is from a Hindu perspective; the other from a Yolngu perspective. Both works use a combination of animation, performance and 360 degree visual and sound mapping.
Feature Film and Audiovisual Installation Credits:
S. Shakthidharan, Rosealee Pearson, Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs (Writers), S. Shakthidharan (Director), Rosealee Pearson, Nicholas Brown (Lead Actors), Vanessa Hyde, S. Shakthidharan (Producers), Guido Gonzalez (Director of Photography), Aimée Falzon (Production Designer), Elias Nohra (Editor), Leah Barclay (Composer & Sound Designer), Colour (Final Post), S. Shakthidharan, Leah Barclay (Executive Producers).
Key Crew: Dani Sitto, Adam McPhilbin, Shawn Spina.
Other Crew: Samia Halabi, Bianca Cruise, Andrea Beeten, Sean Ly, Natalia Figueroa, Rudge Hollis, Roxie Vuong, Lucy Mendelssohn, Cristobal Olguin Hernandez, Wendy Pham.
Feature Film – additional key credits:
Brad Steadman (Additional Writer), Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs, Shandi Lirrina Mununggurr, Brad Steadman (Supporting Actors), Lily Shearer, Brad Steadman (Cultural Advisors), Typography Design (Bo Tam), Typography Animation (Lloyd Ladera).
Installation – additional key credits:
S. Shakthidharan, Anandavalli, Rosealee Pearson and Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr- Stubbs (Cultural Concepts), S. Shakthidharan, Elias Nohra (Design Concept), Anandavalli, Sachin Joab, Shabnam Tavakol, Shania Cubillo, Stephen Williams (Supporting Actors).
Virtual Reality Artworks Credits:
Aruna Parthiban, Anandavalli, S. Shakthidharan, Rosealee Pearson and Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr-Stubbs (Cultural Concepts), S. Shakthidharan, Greg Ferris, Leah Barclay (VR Concepts), S. Shakthidharan (Director), Greg Ferris (Director of Photography – Hindu), S. Shakthidharan (Director of Photography – Yolngu), Greg Ferris (3D Design and VR Post-Production), Vanessa Hyde, S. Shakthidharan (Producers), Leah Barclay (Composer & Sound Designer), Anandavalli (Choreography- Hindu) Rosealee Pearson (Choreography- Yolngu), Aruna Parthiban, Asha Mistry, Shalini Parthiban, Gharshani Ganeshanantham, Murali S Venkatraman, Anandavalli (Lead Talent – Hindu), Rosealee Pearson, Rena Bishop, Lak Lak Burarrwanga, Merrkiyawuy Ganambarr- Stubbs (Lead Talent – Yolngu).
Interactive Installation Credits:
Interaction Consortium (Web design, Interactivity), Aimée Falzon (Illustrations, Animation Soundtrack Composition and Production), Jaime Aguilar (Animation), Leah Barclay (Home Page Soundtrack Composition and Production), Rosealee Pearson (Home Page Voiceover), S. Shakthidharan (Website).