TransHuman Saunter: Multispecies Storytelling in Brisbane City Botanic Garden

TransHuman Saunter

Project dates: 2021 - Ongoing

TransHuman Saunter is a geolocative artwork that documents the entanglements of four women artists with the multispecies ecosystem of the Indian Banyan Tree. These entanglements constitute re-created and re-imagined narratives of their relationship with the nonhuman colonised Indian Subcontinent being: Indian Banyan Tree. The work further builds its foundations on themes of multispecies relationships with the “nonhuman” Banyan Tree, colonialism, mythologies, migration, oppressions, the artists’ own micro-narratives of being ‘lesser’ humans and everyday living in Australia. This is further juxtaposed with human-planetary crises of climate change, forest fires, a pandemic: all psychosis of disjointed human/nonhuman entanglements. This artwork digitally locates itself in Australia and on the Indigenous land of the Turrbal and Yuggera people. In engaging with the Indian Banyan Tree, the artists hope to provide a space to transcend and disrupt colonial forms of knowing so as to heal and repair. The work is a contribution to the pluralistic ways of knowing through an evocation of the narratives of the unseen: the “lesser”-humans, the “non”-humans, and the “non”-beings.

To take a saunter, click the icon above.

The project is built on CGeomap platform.

In Memory of Walter Fieuw.

ARTISTS

Agapetos Fa’aleava

Samoa-Australia | Filmmaker 

The Banyan tree weaves her way through sacred lands to find a place to nurture and grow.  Her roots have scars and marks like the motif of tattoos.  Each motif is a historical record of where she came from and where she is going.  She weaves her way into, and above mother earth seeking light and a new place to plant and grow.  Through the Banyan Tree’s roots, I tell a story of a Samoan traditional tattoo called the Malu – shelter/protection.  The malu’s motifs is a map of our ancestors navigating their ways through the ocean to find land and opportunity.  Like the Banyan tree, the malu has travelled far and wide to settle on Australian soil and it is now called – Home.

Agapetos is currently a PhD Candidate within the Creative Industries at the Queensland University of Technology.  She has worked as an independent Pasefika Producer in Brisbane for over four years.  As a proud Samoan woman, she creates stories using film, still images and her voice to reimagine her ancestors’ journey. Stories are a way for her to navigate her way through life’s complications and finding her own truth and strength. She sees the Banyan Tree as a metaphor for her own family: their hard journey to find opportunities to create their own stories on foreign, sacred lands.  This piece of work is a reflection of the past with prayers for a better tomorrow.

Lan Thanh Ha

Vietnam | Digital Communication

My work explores the identity conflict of an individual coming from a developing country with a colonisation and war past experiences in a Western country. Taking inspiration from the image of Indian banyan trees residing in Brisbane, Australia, the work delves into the similarity between migrants or temporary visitors and exotic trees in relation to a foreign land. The combination of poem, visual, and work aims to engage audiences to travel to familiar locations in Brisbane from a different lens, straddling a line between present and past, between war and peace, and of developing and developed status of country.

Lan studies how people communicate and is always observing how people (including herself) talk, argue, love, lie and fight in daily life and on digital media. In essence, it’s about making sense of how humans as a social species connect and disconnect through multiple channels. Her work in TransHuman Saunter explores the identity conflict of an individual coming from a developing country with a colonisation and war past experiences to a Western country. Taking inspiration from the image of Indian banyan trees residing in Brisbane, Australia, the work delves into the similarity between migrants or temporary visitors and exotic trees in relation to a foreign land. The combination of poem, visual, and work aims to engage audiences to travel to familiar locations in Brisbane from a different lens, straddling a line between present and past, war and peace, and of developing and developed status of a country.

Naputsamohn Junpiban

Thailand | Experience Designer

This work explores the symbiosis and clash of Positivist and Interpretivist traditions in data visualization. Particular to Interpretivist tradition, I explore Thai spiritual beliefs, historicity and cultural relationships of the Banyan Tree, particularly the Buddhist ecology movement in Thailand.

Naputsamohn is currently a PhD Candidate at QUT’s Creative Industries. She was a lecturer at Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts, Chulalongkorn University Thailand. She has received her BA Exhibition Design at Chulalongkorn University and her MA with distinction in Communication Design from University of Southampton, UK. With her background in spatial design, experience design and storytelling, Naputsamohn has developed a specialty in museum experience implementations, focusing on a series of creative methods and interactive design to present in portable exhibition techniques for museums in Thailand. Her research and design focus on participatory approach and experience design in the areas of design for health and wellbeing, interactive media and community engagement. 

Natasha Narain

India-Australia | Visual Artist

The word Banyan comes loaded with Colonial overtones as it was not the species’ traditional name. The name refers to the caste of Banias (merchants) who sat under the canopy of the tree and carrying on their business. For Hindus, the tree is a Kalpa Vriksha where Kalpa means time and Vriksha is a tree: longevity is thereby inherent as is being a vessel carrying memories while providing shelter to creatures, a symbol for experience, resilience, and wisdom while being connected to the cosmos. In this work, I sought to acknowledge the trees that were here before and the dislocation from place and kin that the Banyan has experienced. I imagined the Banyan on some level reflected my experience of feeling nurtured in a pluralistic Australia.

Natasha is pursuing a practice-led PhD at QUT in Brisbane. Grateful for the encouraging support from her son, Jason, close friends, caring supervisors, peers and loving family, Natasha enjoys working in an open studio space on campus and is deeply appreciative of the financial assistance through the QUT PostGraduate Scholarship, and from working with the Commonwealth Bank in Brisbane. A Bengali Uttar Pradeshi Australian, born into a Defence force family in Wellington, India,  Natasha loves to travel and speaks Bengali, Hindi and English. She spent five formative years at Viswa Bharati University in Bengal, developing an interdisciplinary art practice in a campus known for its old trees, libraries and independent creatives.  Natasha lived in Melbourne and London before settling down in Brisbane in 2004. While embracing her new home culture, she is committed to reconnecting with her maternal heritage of narrative quilting called the Kantha and expanding Kantha’s potential as a cross-cultural visual language.  Kantha forms a lens through which she incorporates the personal and the local. It is both a starting point and a place of departure as she extends the materials and methods into a large body of interrelated, non-traditional works. Being with Banyan trees felt like a homecoming in India and Australia, a chance to work with peers, create new photographic and audio works, while also indulging her love of history and poetry.

EVENTS & EXHIBITIONS

Speaking up—responding to On Earth

Sat., 8 May 2021 | 2:00 pm – 3:15 pm AEST | About the event

Location | City Botanic Gardens, 147 Alice StreetBrisbane, QLD 4000

Uroboros Festival

Festival Opening

Sat., 15 May 2021 | 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm AEST | Agapetos & Naputsamohn | About the event

Sun., 16 May 2021 | 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm AEST | Lan & Natasha | About the event

TransHuman Saunter & CI HDR Society Walkathon

Sun., 30 May 2021 | 8:00 am – 10:00 am AEST | About the event

Location | City Botanic Gardens, 147 Alice StreetBrisbane, QLD 4000

A Collective Conversation: Observing a Year

Artists Sobia Ahmad & Monroe Isenberg envisioned the More-than-Human World library. TransHuman Saunter features under the category of  ‘Repair’. ‘

Repair’ archives our entanglement with nonhuman beings.

Emerging from these conscious relationships are forces that heal. 

Website | Project Page

2021 CoVA Graduate Academy Memory Conference, University of Melbourne

3 Sept 2021 | More info.

Location | Online

QUT Sustainability Week: Conversations at the Cube (24th August 2021)

3 Sept 2021 | More info.

Location | The Cube, QUT Gardens Point.

Transitioning towards Sustainable Futures: More than human futures: Data Wall Exhibition

2-7 November 2021| More info.

Location | Sphere & Data Wall, QUT KG-E Block

The Data Wall

After Progress Exhibition

Launched 11 March 2022| More info.

Location | Online Exhibition | Project Page

DH Awards 2021

March 2022| Nominations | Winning Projects


Funding / Grants

  • MTHF Fund (2020 - 2022)

Chief Investigators

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