Jervois Park, Jervois Road, Darwin City NT, Australia
First Lights – Balarr Inyiny
Date and time
19-21 Aug 2022
Date and time
19-21 Aug 2022
Following on from the Australian premiere of First Lights with Moombaki in Western Australia, the Fremantle Biennale’s choreographed drone light show journeyed to Darwin, transforming the night sky in an epic spectacle of light, movement and sound.
Co-presented with Darwin Festival in 2022, and led by Larrakia artist Jenna Lee in collaboration with local music producer Kuya James and composer Lena Kellie, and supported by elders from the Larrakia community, this new experience titled balarr inyiny (bah-lahrr een-yeen-y), meaning ‘light dreaming’, saw 160 drones take flight from Jervois Park in a breathtaking choreographed sky show illustrating Larrakia songlines that run down Darwin’s coastline.
Balarr inyiny used new technologies to bring to life ancient stories, transforming the way we understand Larrakia culture and our shared relationship to country.
Artist: Jenna Lee in collaboration with elders from the Larrakia community
Sound Design: Kuya James
Compositions by Lena Kellie, Narrated by Christopher Lee and Lena Kellie
Animation: Jarrad Russell
Script Editor: Jennifer Kornberger
Technical Partner: Stellar Lights
Presented by the Fremantle Biennale and Darwin Festival.
About the artists
Jenna Lee is a Gulumerridjin (Larrakia), Wardaman and KarraJarri Saltwater woman with mixed Japanese, Chinese, Filipino and Anglo-Australian ancestry. Using art to explore and celebrate her many overlapping identities, Lee works across sculpture, installation, and body adornment. She also works with moving images, photography and projection in the digital medium.
With a practice focused on materiality and ancestral material culture, Lee works with notions of the archive, histories of colonial collecting, and settler-colonial books and texts. Lee ritualistically analyses, deconstructs and reconstructs source material, language and books, transforming them into new forms of cultural beauty and pride, and presenting a tangibly translated book.
Driven to create work in which she, her family, and the broader mixed First Nations community see themselves represented, Lee builds on a foundation of her father’s teachings of culture and her mother’s teachings of papercraft.
Lee was honoured to be the recipient of several awards: the Wandjuk Marika 3D Memorial Award at the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award (NATSIAA); the Australia Council’s Dreaming Award; and, the Libris Artist Book Prize. She has been a finalist in national awards, including the prestigious John Fries Award for emerging and early career artists, the Footscray Art Prize, the National Works on Paper Prize, and the KWM Contemporary First Nations Art Award.
Represented by MARS Gallery in Naarm (Melbourne, Australia), Lee has exhibited in several national and international museums and galleries, including the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford UK, the Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane), the Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory, QUT Art Gallery, and Griffith University Art Gallery. Formally trained as a graphic designer, Lee has a Bachelor of Visual Communication Design, and a Postgraduate Certificate in Museum Studies.
Multi-faceted and iconically recognised producer Kuya James (aka James Mangohig) grew up in the tropical and diverse metropolis of Darwin; the capital of the Northern Territory on Larrakia land in Australia. The first-born son to a Filipino migrant father and an Australian born Dutch mother, James would earn his stage name early in life simply by being the eldest. “Kuya” in the national Filipino tongue means “older brother”. A term of endearment and respect that he would gain not only from his biological family, but from the families he has made within communities spanning music, dance, culture and theatre, locally in Darwin, nationally and internationally.
Combining his natural affinity for rhythm and melody with an obsessive passion of high-quality sonic experiences, Kuya James crafted his production talents over years of collaboration in bands and production duos; resulting in a large catalogue of songs and award nominations and wins. Creating a signature sound bookmarked by pulsating tribal beats, Asian samples, flipping vocals, synths and sub bass; Kuya James’ instrumentals alone challenge even the most well-built PA systems.