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blood of my blood

Q&A with Jada Narkle

Vanessa Morris asks Jada Narkle a few questions around the foundations, inspirations and collaborations of performance blood of my blood. 

What are the key inspirations for blood of my blood? 

I find these kinds of questions slightly difficult as so much of my understanding of time and space and worlds are so intricately interconnected that everything bleeds into the next which then informs every facet of my being in pockets of time. I do however become fixated on certain thoughts and I suppose some of that has led me to begin this particular journey that revolves around unpacking so much of this colonial dystopia that we as First Nations peoples are endlessly navigating. So much of our understanding of the world and society we live in is the antithesis of First Nations knowledge and ideology and although our understanding of the world would be vastly different from whadjella’s we still have inherited so much of their language and practise. My work therefore revolves around unpacking and decolonising all of this learned understanding but also looking to find new worlds that I hope to build founded on old beginnings.

Are the themes / stories explored in this performance always been of interest to you? Or was there a moment, event, experience or personal learnings that sparked this interest?

Whether or not I have been conscious of these particular themes or stories they have always been lying within my body and experience of life. As the thoughts and themes of my work and worlds are all that encompass my being and living as a First Nations yorga in this society. They impact every facet of my life and therefor inform how I traverse through this space and time. I will however say that I have had the privilege of being in a really safe environment during my training that facilitated an environment that allowed me to fully acknowledge and explore these thoughts and ideas.

Blood is an interesting topic, where intergenerational trauma from ancestors can be inherited through genetics / DNA. Are you able to talk to this from your perspective?

Yes! I am very much interested in DNA and the shared inheritance of embodied knowledge that is passed on through the generations. Another fascinating element of this is epigenetics which is the external environment and behaviours that affect the way your genes behave and are read within the body. I think a major facet of this is trauma as it is one that can easily leave a lasting imprint of your body and the future bodies to come. As First Nations people who have a brutal history of colonisation a lot of this information is passed through the body to future generations. It is something that was not recognised too long ago however the research is indicative of what many First Nations people knew to have existed through lived experience. As much as that is a huge aspect of genetics and DNA I also can’t help but wonder about the love and joy that coated so much of our lives pre colonisation and how our bodies may also remember this. Although it may not feel as present as trauma, which is fresh, I imagine it exists within all of us and will play a huge part in the remembering and building of new worlds that will hopefully encompass all.

Your creative process is demonstrative of ancestral connections, genetic memory, intersectionality and trauma pathways. As an artist, how does it feel to use art / performance to explore these?

I think as someone who is First Nations there was no choice of using art and performance to explore these things as they are just intrinsic to who we are as a people. Our language and the way in which we view the world was, in all senses of the word, artistic. We were poets, performers, scholars and scientists which again are all so deeply connected to one another that I personally don’t see much distinction between. They all cannot coexist without the other and is how I feel in life. The life is artistic therefor it was inherent to my exploration of these experiences. I would like to acknowledge that the time I have to explore such things is a privilege though, one that I wish was present for everyone. I do believe the art to be necessary for our existence and am therefor eternally grateful to do my part in continuing and sustaining that practise and to hopefully change the things for the future generations.

Often through performances / art – audiences learn something new, with art open for interpretation. Is there anything you hope audiences can learn from blood of my blood?

I think for the most part I do wish for the audience to take away whatever they take away from it. I think putting too many expectations on what they should be learning from the work doesn’t necessarily lead to any beneficial outcome. I hope for the audience to listen and be receptive of course but I would never want to presume what they should or shouldn’t learn from it. I will say though that all of my works preface Blak and First Nations people, they are made for them and with them in mind and in doing so I hope they find some sort of connection, belonging or understanding. We as First Nations people are always looking to be seen and heard and I hope that my work can at least give some semblance of that to my audience as they are my moort (family) and a major driving factor in continuing creating.

As an artist, it can feel somewhat vulnerable to share stories with different audiences and spaces. How does this openness / vulnerability in sharing stories with audiences feel for you as an artist?

I have always been told that I seem so much more vulnerable and open when I am doing the dancing as oppose to just existing as the person. A friend and I have discussed this at length but we came to the conclusion that when we are doing the dancing it is the only time we are solely existing through the body rather than the thoughts. I think this is something that most people never get to experience but the fact that I am able to and so frequently is a gift and one that I am so thankful for. Again I also think the sharing of these stories is my continuation of Noongar Kaartijin and therefor something that has had and will have a continual presence in my life long before and after my body.

Were there any collaborators involved in blood of my blood? Or any conversations with family, Elders or community members through the development of this work?

There have been many collaborations throughout my time that have informed this world, some smaller or bigger than others but each inherently necessary and of immense value. Some of which may be seemingly unrelated yet have then gone on to shift and inform my entire perspective of the time and space.

What can we expect to see from the performance in terms of sounds and visuals?

I am very excited to be collaborating with an amazing sound designer and friend Wytchings (Jenny Trinh) who has been able to hold and expand this world with me as we have gone on this journey together. The sounds throughout the piece are really incredible and were born out of collaboration and the exchanging of words and time. In terms of visuals I think I am very much fascinated to how the body positioned in space can create certain images and how that translates to different people. Aside from that I think it is more enjoyable to maybe not have as many expectations about too many things but being open to seeing whatever it is that you see, all of it has its place and validity. 

Jada Narkle (Kooljak) is a multidisciplinary, collaborative artist and Noongar yorga, from the Wiilman and Yued tribes of Western Australia.

Vanessa Morris is a proud Yorta Yorta, Dja Dja Wurrung, Wiradjuri woman and presents First Nations arts and culture show Banksia on 3RRR.

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