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Black Crows Invaded Our Country

An artistic contextualisation of the public lecture

In partnership with Sydney Environment Institute & the City of Sydney

This performance is an artistic contextualisation of the public lecture in the merging of academic research with indigenous story, performance, and sound art.

The Living Room Theatre returns to the JD Stewart Building – home of the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney for a collaboration with the academic community of the Sydney Environment Institute (SEI) for the performance of ‘Black Crows Invaded Our Country’, based on the Humboldt Foundation research of environmental philosopher and author, Associate Professor Thom van Dooren (UNSW), The Unwelcome Crows: Hospitality in the Anthropocene.

Auteur Michelle St Anne juxtaposes this lecture to the haunting and complex issue of human migration. She sees parallels in the inconsistencies of logic, scapegoating, justifications and fears of what promises to be a problem in a perceived future.

The project gathers a diverse range of artists, performers, researchers and activists who respond to these ideas through performance, dance, sound, field recordings, voice samples, climbing, and lecture, allowing the audience to reflect on the content in an emotional and intellectual way.

This artistic hybrid of the public lecture, story and performance include the audience as players and recontexualises the topography of the space. The Ian Clunies lecture theatre and the stairwell and corridors of the JD Stewart building positions the audience throughout the building as part of the topography of the space – an illustration of the concept of the Anthropocene, in which humanity has profoundly marked the Earth. Researchers don their academic gowns and situate themselves amongst the audience as a haunting ‘murder of crows.’

An ‘Acknowledgment of Country’ prefaces the performance. This ancient philosophy and tradition of hospitality comes full circle when van Dooren returns to the concept of ‘Caring for Country’ which has long been and remains a pivot of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander life, an ethic that sees humans as part of, rather than outside their natural world.

This allegory of crows symbolises one of our city’s greatest challenges – the succouring of humans in need.