Mars on Earth II. At Uluru

Decades of scientific exploration have revealed that some regions of the Earth may be similar to the geological environments observed on the surface of Mars. Australia's central desert shares certain unique and singular characteristics with the "red planet": extinct volcanoes, traces of asteroid impact, minerals, arid valleys, sandstone and stony soils the colour of blood caused by the same weathering process. Arthur and Corinne Cantrill's film At Uluru encapsulates the essence of these environments and introduces us to the heart of this continent: the great rock Uluru.

Instead of the rolling, wooded landscapes of the coastal areas, At Uluru took the Cantrills to the unfamiliar landscape of Central Australia and its great rock formations that rise up out of the reddened, flat desert. These great rocks are awe-inspiring in their magnificence and are forever changing due to the light and weather conditions. With this film, the Australian filmmakers wanted to provide an overall impression of the monolith, circumnavigating it, exploring it, flying over it and even climbing it, nevertheless realising it will always be mysterious and defy any attempt to capture it on film.

In many of Arthur and Corinne Cantrill's films there are no stories or characters. Rather we're confronted with the landscape and its investigation through film, with a materialist preoccupation. As well as bringing to the foreground the harshness and rigour of the Australian landscape, these filmmakers also investigate the perception and materiality of the image itself, asking questions about the nature of film and its capacity to create other worlds.

At Uluru, Corinne and Arthur Cantrill, 1977, 16 mm, 80 min.

Film courtesy of Arsenal Berlin.

21 March 2021


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