Tim Georgeson reveals Truth in Fire
Published on 30 November 2021
In the aftermath of the catastrophic Australian bushfires of 2019, renowned film maker and visual artist, Tim Georgeson, travelled home from Canada to shoot footage for climate crisis focused magazines, Atmos and Noema.
Georgeson’s experience shooting in disaster zones around the world has given him unique insights into the human condition, and he is known for his emotionally stirring perspective on social, political and environmental issues.
“It's really important for people in Australia to understand that Australia is a fire country, and how important it is for all of us, for our ecological survival, that fire is managed the right way,” Georgeson says.
His work documenting the devastation on the NSW South Coast brought him into contact with the Yuin people and other Aboriginal communities. Listening to their stories, Georgeson was intrigued by their knowledge of cultural burning practices and fire management.
“Their way of looking after the land through fire is not to destroy anything, it's to harmonise everything. It’s a regenerator of life,” he says.
Georgeson found he was gathering interesting content and set about filming a feature-length documentary exploring the significance of Aboriginal fire lore. The project grew, extending into a collaboration with Amanda Jane Reynolds, a Guringai artist living on the South Coast. Together, they worked closely with the Firesticks Alliance and other Indigenous knowledge holders over several months.
The result is Truth in Fire, a visually stunning and deeply moving journey into the world of Indigenous fire keepers. This powerful body of interrelated stills, moving image and sound installations will show at the Museum of Art and Culture, yapang (MAC yapang) in December.
Central to the exhibition is Georgeson’s moving image work Requiem for a forest. Shot on the Nerriga Plateau, this black and white single-channel video eerily captures a landscape decimated by fire and devoid of sound.
“When I went up there, it was like a nuclear blast had gone off. Everything had disappeared,” Georgeson says.
Requiem for a forest will appear alongside Georgeson’s other moving image works, Anthropomorphosis and Pyrogenesis II, as well as landscapes and portraits of fire practitioners and traditional owners, Yuin Nation Elder Vivian Mason and Victor Cooper (Guruwalu), a Minitja man from Kakadu, Northern Territory.
For the exhibition at MAC yapang, Truth in Fire will also include a series of portraits of members from the Awabakal and Biriban communities, to acknowledge local custodians and their connection to country.
Truth in Fire by Tim Georgeson is on view at MAC yapang from 4 Dec 2021 – 20 Feb 2022.
Image: Tim Georgeson, Victor, 2021. Colour inks on paper