Rural Utopias

Table of Contents

Biosphere collages text, video and sound collected during conversations with local resi­dents. Each conversation lasted about two hours, some went for longer, and work­ing with five of these interviews Rodigari wrote a lyric poem and performed this back to the com­mu­nity over coffee, cake and sandwiches at the com­munity resource centre.

  • Three elderly men in different states of exercise at a gym. Various exercise equipment are arranged against the walls.
    Sarah Rodigari, Biosphere, 2023, video still.
  • Biosphere, 2023, single channel digital video with sound, 1 min 43 sec.

The work presents a humorous and self-reflex­ive counter-memory told through an outsider’s portrait of a town attempt­ing to renew itself (once again), supported by the ebb and flow of mining and farming in relation to the regions, history with First Nations peoples and climate change.

Biosphere address­es colonial-settler notions of belonging and identity in relation to utopian themes of what makes an ideal community: love, work, death, land, money and commu­nity. Moving between drone shots of the local landscape, and Rodigari ‘working out’ in the gym, the monologue reflects on strengths and vulne­rabi­lities of collec­tive rhythm(s) that are produced through social relationships to form a sense of place. In the gym the body; like a mine or a farm within the land­scape, is isolated into parts, broken down, rebuilt, re-configured, and recomposed to produce a uni­fied image of growth. The monologue juxta­poses this by weaving together a series of con­tras­ting narratives addressing the politics of this loca­tion. In doing so, Rodigari draws attention to the frac­tured notion of utopia as a flawed idea that cannot exist in colonised Australia without erasing the history of Aboriginal people on this continent.

Nigel Smith, Altarpiece: alter ego, 2023, synthetic polymer paint, found wood, cast iron lace frame, copper wire, Sarah Rodigari, Biosphere, 2023, single channel digital video with sound, 18 min 33 sec. The Art Gallery of Western Australia, 2023. Photo by Dan McCabe (@artdoc_au).
  • Ian Hamilton Finlay, Rowan, 1987, card, Blue/Lark, 1983, card, Willow, 1987, card. The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia, Gift of Mary Hill in memory of Christopher Hill, 2021 © Estate of Ian Hamilton Finlay. Photo by Dan McCabe (@artdoc_au).

Biosphere is presented alongside three works by Scottish poet and writer Ian Hamilton Finlay, who breaks down lang­uage and image to form re-readings of situations. Rodigari relates this to the process of unravelling the idea of ‘utopia’ when making Biosphere. Both Rodigari and Finlay’s works take time to engage with, as does getting to know a commu­nity. A significant event in the Shire of Ravensthorpe is the Wildflower Show, which draws a large international atten­dan­ce, and the locals are very passionate about. The botanical references in these works are a nod to the wild­flowers and euca­lypts in the Shire; after all, what is a utopia without a tree or a flower?

Artist : Sarah Rodigari

Sarah Rodigari is an artist whose practice addresses the social and political potential of art. Sarah’s work is site-responsive, employing, durational live action, improvisation, and dialogical methodologies to produce text-based performance, installation, and film.

Rodigari has worked with and within various contexts and insti­tu­tions including Sydney Opera House, HIAP(Helsinki), The Art Gallery of Western Australia, The National New Australian Art Biennial, Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), the 20th Biennale of Sydney, MUMA, Mel­bourne International Arts Festival, ACCA, The Poetry Project (NYC) and SOMA (Mexico City). Rodigari is member of the collective Field Theory and Lectures in Sculpture and Spatial Practice at The Australian Natio­nal University, Canberra.

Community Host Partner Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council

Situated in the remote rural Shire of Ravensthorpe, the Ravensthorpe Regional Arts Council (RRAC) is a volun­teer-based incorporated orga­ni­sation that provides a diverse and adventurous arts program of events through­out the region annually. Through artistic activity RRAC builds community cohesion, identity and inclusiveness.


Biosphere, 2023, single channel digital video with sound, 18 min 33 sec.

  • Video Editing

    Garden Reflexxx

  • Sound Composition

    Evelyn Ida Morris

  • Camera

    Dave Riggs, Jarvis Smallman

  • Drone

    Dave Riggs

  • Production Assistance

    Emily Dawn