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In addition to seeking institutional interest, the trap of Karrabing’s films is self-reflexive. A film like When the Dogs Talked is framed around a particular “Dreaming” or ongoing ancestral presence on the land. The film follows young children who through the process of making the film are encouraged to learn and care about this knowledge through questioning and engaging in the narrative. Povinelli describes trying to transfix their senses and practice so that while they’re doing something else (i.e. making a film), they’re nevertheless compelled by these ancestral presences. “The ancestral presence archive isn’t in a library”, she says. “It’s not in a museum; it’s in their bodies”.

The film The Mermaids, or Aiden in Wonderland, on the other hand, focuses on a near future in which the world has been made toxic by white people. Karrabing’s conception of connectivity says that you cannot be an individual without already being obligated outside yourself; however, there is an attitude within Western capitalism that believes one can continually extract from the world that which one is actually dependent on, without being affected. The argument of Mermaids is that at some point you will suck out so much that there will no longer remain anything left to constitute yourself.

We can see a trap as a model of its creator, the hunter, or a portrait of its prey, but more than this, the trap is the embodiment of the dramatic nexus, which binds the two together in time and space. In the language of Elizabeth Povinelli, we might talk about the form of connectivity (and collectivity) that Karrabing embodies as a knot, or a particular knotting within a series of knots. The title of Povinelli’s lecture session was “Collective Practices”, but collectivity cannot be generalised. It must always stem from one's own particular set of conditions and circumstances, and this entails a step into the unknown. “We just don’t know” Povinelli tells me, “We didn’t see so many things making film was connected to until we started making films”. The only way to discover the myriad connections is to begin doing.

Alisa Blakeney is a curator from regional Western Australia. She is currently a participant in the De Appel Curatorial Programme 2018-2019. This article was written during the Critical Writing Workshop of Sonic Acts 2019, led by Arie Altena with Katía Truijen, and originally published on the Critical Writing blog.