Events , San Francisco

Karrabing Film Collective

Karrabing Film Collective
A screening and conversation between collective members and anthropologist Tarek Elhaik

The Karrabing Film Collective is a media group consisting of more than 30 intergenerational Aboriginal filmmakers from Australia’s Northern Territory. Together, amid contemporary settler colonialism and constant state interventions, they create films that challenge Australian political culture. Their body of cinematic work re-animates a complex assemblage of practices and scales of relation: to the land, to geology, to ancestors, to human and non-human life, and to visual culture.

A screening of The Mermaids, or Aiden in Wonderland is followed by a conversation between Karrabing Film Collective members and anthropologist, Tarek Elhaik, where they reflect on the relationship between nyudj (ancestral spirits) and filmmaking, as a tool to examine the entanglement of Indigenous and settler realities. The conversation will also explore the collective’s distinctive genre of filmmaking, often described as “improvisational realism.” In this mode where drama and satire are blurred, the ruptures between temporality and movement leads the viewer to search beyond the boundaries of documentary and fiction, setting in motion another articulation of past, present, and future. Night Time Go will be screened in the gallery from 5pm onwards.

Karrabing Film Collective members present are Gavin Bianamu, Rex Edmunds, Natasha Bigfoot Lewis, Cecilia Lewis, Angelina Lewis, Elizabeth A. Povinelli, Aiden Sing, Kieran Sing, and Shannon Sing.

The Mermaids, or Aiden in Wonderland, 2018 (26:29 mins)
The film is a surreal exploration of Western toxic contamination, capitalism and of human and non-human life. Set in a land poisoned by capitalism where only Aboriginals can survive long periods outdoors, the film tells the story of a boy, Aiden, taken away as a baby to be a part of a medical experiment to save the white race. (on view at 7pm)

Night Time Go, 2017 (31:10 mins)
The film explores the Australian government’s detainment of Indigenous people during the Second World War, which was experienced firsthand by Karrabing ancestors. Combining reenactments with modified archival footage, what begins as a restaging of the past slowly turns into a speculative, alternative history that oscillates between drama and humor, fact and fiction. (on view at 5pm, 5.40pm, and 6.15pm)


Karrabing Film Collective (est. 2013, Australia) is an award-winning group of some thirty filmmakers and artists most of whom are Indigenous to the lands and coasts along northwestern Australia. In the Emiyengal Indigenous language Karrabing means ‘tide out’. It refers to a time of coming together, as well as to the coastline that connects the Karrabing Film Collective as an extended family group across social lines.

Tarek Elhaik is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis. His research is focused on aesthetic anthropology, geo-philosophy, theories of the image, curatorial practice, and conceptual artists’ modes of thinking. He is the author of The Incurable-Image: Curating Post-Mexican Film and Media Arts (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), a book based on participant-observation in Mexico City’s contemporary art scene and intellectual life, and is currently finishing a new book titled States of Cogitation. He is also the founder of AIL: the Anthropology of the Image Lab.