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.
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.
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?