This is a Border (Town)

01. 08. 2016

Dancing in your own language

Farid Drokhshan is a confident performer, and he knows how to engage an audience. I’ve seen him performing twice in Bordertown now, playing seated on the floor beside his eight-year old son who accompanies him on the tabla. I’ve enjoyed Farid’s music, but what I’ve enjoyed most from these events is seeing the response of Afghan men in the audience when Farid speaks to them in their own language, and then seeing the pleasure on the faces of the same me when they’re up and dancing. The Afghan men at these events sit and listen ever so politely to all of the English language speeches, but I think it must be such sweet relief to hear a stranger joking with them in a language that is comfortably their own.

In Australian culture of course it’s more often women who are first on to the dance floor, while men characteristically stand with their arms crossed at the back of the room. By contrast, these Afghan men are up dancing and twirling with their hands in the air. One or two of them are most enthusiastic, and then they drag others up to dance too. And then, yesterday, some girls joined in as well.

I think that many of these Afghan men are living a half-life here in Bordertown, They’re here alone, really just in the early stages of their journey to establish a new life, while their families remain in far off refugee camps or in countries torn by war. I see these men sometimes sitting outside the library in the evening too, where Tatiara Council thoughtfully provides free WiFi, talking to their families via Skype or some other on-line medium. I don’t hear them complaining, but I know that their lives are constrained and difficult. Which is why it’s so great to see them dance.

Malcolm McKinnon

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Artist Residency


James Dodd, Mark de Nys, Malcolm McKinnon



About the Artist

Malcolm McKinnon

Malcolm McKinnon is an Australian artist and filmmaker working mainly in rural communities. Over the past 25 years, his work has encompassed oral history, urban planning, public and community art projects, critical writing and exhibitions. His current practice is mainly focused around documentary filmmaking and social history, motivated by an appreciation of living memory and local vernacular.

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About the Artist

James Dodd

James Dodd is an artist who has a strong interest in public space and often works on mural scale and community oriented outcomes. He has a multi-faceted visual arts practice that embraces a range of painting and sculptural approaches. He exhibits regularly across Australia and has had his work collected by major institutions, including the National Gallery of Australia. Dodd is an educator at Adelaide Central School of Art and is represented by Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide.

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About the Artist

Mark de Nys

Mark de Nys is a Limestone Coast based Visual Artist ,Educator and Musician,with a background in Engineering and Design, he has worked on large scale public artwork throughout Australia, taking energy from things never before made, re-inventing and re imagining always questioning, Why? This is a Border(town) offers the rare chance to engage with local Blokes via the Men's Shed along with industry and council members, the outcome is organic and fluid embracing Men's mental health, there may be Windmills! Hope to see you on the Journey.

Country Arts SA recognises and respects that we are living and creating on Aboriginal Lands and we are committed to working together to honour their living cultures.