Colony was launched at Carriageworks on Tuesday night. It is an on-going highly ambitious five-year project by Curious Works that aims to tell a universe of stories through video, music and theatre. Writing about Curious Works is an essay of its own. It is a collaboration of artists lead by S. Shakthidharan who aim to make storytelling their lifeblood. They tell narratives but more importantly they empower communities to tell their own stories in their own ways.
Colony will cross almost every realm of media as it traverses time to bring stories from the past, the present and the imagined future. Despite this grand time and space approach the whole project is grounded by its centre; Western Sydney and the community that lives there, both real and imagined.
The Colony launch night indulged us with the first three chapters of the story, When the Tide Comes In, told in three short films. The first film introduces us to two characters and what follows is as disjointed as it is intriguing. There are cords injected into arms, faces that express an untold story, a connection that is not clear, convulsions and death. Very little is explained in these films. You have to abandon trying to understand what is going on and just enjoy the story telling. There are no credits so the actors remain unknown as if they are not actors but actual people in a real and disturbing world. No cinematographers or directors or even music designers were mentioned as if they too were non-existent.
The only thing you have to hold onto is a strong woman who seems all-knowing, yet trapped and a man, almost think God-like, if it were not for his tired eyes that express the human traits of obsession, desire and compulsion. The next two films begin to explain how we get to the ending but are similar in their ambiguous story telling. Visually it is a feast as the films are cinematically beautiful and the score, performed live at the launch, was exceptional. But as for the story you are given just enough to feed an ever-building curiosity. It is intriguing despite its dark outline. You hope that as all is revealed and everything is not as bleak as it first appears. You ask yourself the question: is this what happens when we leave paradise or is this a story about a return to paradise?
Instalments of the launch story will be released daily on the Curious Works website and after seeing the first three and I am committed to watching the story unfold every day till the 15th March. But this is just the tip of a gigantic iceberg; Colony incorporates stories that have already been told such as Riz, a highly successful feature film that was selected for the 2015 Sydney Film Festival. There are also stories that have yet to be told such as Myth that is a feature length audio-visual art work that will be launched in collaboration with the New York Streaming Museum. There is also the theatre production, A Counting of Cracking of Heads that is planned for 2017 at Belvoir Street Theatre.
Colony is hard to explain, complex in its nature and wildly diverse. The project bubbles with potential and although it is hard to get your head around exactly what it all is about you do feel a great sense of excitement about the future of this project. The next five years could see you dipping in and out of the Colony stories with great curiosity.
Venue: Carriageworks | 245 Wilson St Eveleigh, Sydney
Date: 8 March 2016