Martu filmmaker and artist Curtis Taylor talks with Lisa Stefanoff about his work in the production and international promotion of Lynette Wallworth’s Virtual Reality Film Collisions, a project that tells the story of his grandfather Nyarri Nyarri Morgan’s experience of the British atomic bomb tests at Maralinga and ongoing care for his country. Curtis reflects on the value of different art and media forms for conveying Martu stories, enduring traditional knowledge and contemporary concerns, and discusses his own cinematic reflections on the powers, risks and roles of new media in Martu communities.
Curtis Taylor is a Martu filmmaker, artist and father of a young son, based in Perth. Growing up in remote Martu desert communities and going to school in the city, Curtis gained both traditional Martu knowledge and a non-Martu education. Curtis has written, directed, shot, acted in and collaborated on a number of film and multimedia productions, including his recent short film Yulubidyi – Until the End (2018), Collisions (dir: Lynette Wallworth, 2016), Phone Booth (with Lily Hibbert, 2013), and his first short drama Mamu (2011/2014). Curtis learned to make films as a Community Coordinator and Youth Development Officer at Martu Media (a division of Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa), where he also spent 18 months working on Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route (2010) as a filmmaker and youth ambassador. He was the recipient of the 2011 Western Australian Youth Art Award and the Wesfarmers Youth Scholarship. Curtis’ films have screened internationally, from Nepal to Brazil, Canada to Cannes. His mixed-media artworks have appeared in the exhibitions In Cahoots, Fremantle Arts Centre (2017), Networking The Unseen, Furtherfield Gallery, London (2016), Dead Ringer, Perth Institute of Contemporary Art (2015), Taboo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2012) and We don’t need a map: A Martu experience of the Western Desert, Fremantle Arts Centre (2012).
Lisa Stefanoff is a media-maker, curator, writer and cultural anthropologist, currently undertaking a post-doctoral project as an ARC DECRA Research Fellow at the National Institute for Experimental Arts, UNSW Art & Design. She also holds Honorary Research Associate position in the School of Humanities and Creative Arts at Charles Darwin University. Lisa has lived, researched and worked in the NT since returning to Australia from graduate studies at New York University in 2002. Her time at CAAMA Productions (2002–2006), IAD Press (2007–2010), the CRC–REP Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Economies Project (2011–2012), and in a variety of other community arts and media organisations and projects has been focused on the politics and practices of amplifying Indigenous voices and enabling participation in cultural conversations at local, national and international levels of the public sphere. Lisa has worked in Australia and Brazil with Curtis as a co-curator, researcher, project producer and friend for many years.