The Hanging: The Last Resort, Kaldor Public Art Projects

October 30th 2017

Anri Sala, The Last Resort, 2017

A site of early contact between colonists and Indigenous Australians, Observatory Hill reverberates with ideas of history, land and culture.

Developed over three years by French-Albanian artist Anri Sala, ‘The Last Resort’ explores Australia’s colonial history through sound, set against sweeping views of Sydney Harbour.

Made up of custom built snare drums suspended upside down beneath the Observatory Hill rotunda, 38 pairs of drumsticks move as if by a phantom musician. The sticks land on deaf ears. Instead, a symphony of strings, wind instruments and percussion fill the rotunda. It’s Mozart’s enlightenment period masterpiece, ‘Clarinet Concerto in A major’, but not the Mozart original. Your traditional symphony orchestra is replaced with the sounds of currents, gales and gushes of wind and sea.

Working with a musicologist, Sala substituted the original tempo indications of Mozart’s piece for the wind conditions described in James Bell’s journal detailing his journey to Australia in 1838. Sala mused on what might happen to the masterpiece if it was put in a bottle and thrown into the sea – how the wind, waves and water currents would affect it, and what the piece would sound like once it reached a new shore.

The answer? Don’t expect Enya style “sail aways” or eruptions of crashing waves. This new incarnation identifies the chasm between the romanticised vision of European colonialism and the actual devastation and loss experienced by Aboriginal people.

Looking up from underneath the installation, the snare drums are reflective; providing glimpses of the sea and land surrounds reminding us of our nautical history, how it lingers in the present and how it trails into our future. Anri Sala takes an artefact from the past and reworks it to create a dialogue between memory, time and cross-cultural translation.


WHAT: The Last Resort
WHEN: until 5 November 2017
WHERE: Observatory Hill, Millers Point.
HOW MUCH: Free – More info here 



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