Reflective of Indigenous art and culture prior to
Reflective Paper Response to the film “Samson and Delilah. ” “Samson and Delilah” (2009) explores issues of survival for two disliked teenagers from a remote indigenous community in Central Australia. Written and directed by Warwick Thornton, this film follows the gradual partnership of two indigenous teenagers who live in a small-impoverished rural community outside Alice Springs.
It is a film of slow and alarming beauty.The journey of these two young teenagers has brought to attention a greater awareness and understanding of both Indigenous art and culture, as well as how issues arising from this film may affect and impact upon wider understandings and awareness of Indigenous culture. The first personal connection I made with “Samson and Delilah” were the scenes viewing Delilah’s grandmother and her paintings. After viewing the first few lectures on the DVD Art + Soul1 I was able to understand and appreciate more of an in depth acceptance to the relevance of the paintings.Like the Art + Soul viewings, I felt that Delilah’s grandmother was thinking about her family and country in her paintings. She too was singing and telling a story like I had previously witnessed.
Having close to a zero understanding of Indigenous art and culture prior to this course, I have already gained a higher knowledge into the meaning of Indigenous Art, which is something I have witnessed before, only without any understanding to the meaning behind it.Delilah’s grandmother taught her how to paint and shared the techniques she used. The paintings were very repetitive, and as I had already learnt from the Art + Soul episodes, the meaning of the repetitiveness reflected upon what she sings: stories of her country and family. Beyond the paintings’ purpose to express the meaning of her country and family, I appreciated the fact that the paintings are as well a thought out process to make money so they can maintain in their country and live in their culture.As the film developed, I learnt where this work is sold, and only after briefly understanding more to what the paintings illustrate, it gives it so much more of an accepting and appreciative feel towards the art. As the film progresses, Samson and Delilah find themselves out of petrol and almost out of money, which leads towards what I believe are society’s stereotypes at the fore.
When Delilah heads into the supermarket looking for whatever she can buy with the little money she has left, she is shadowed by a security guard throughout the store and later on shunned when she tries to find a way to provide through her own artwork.There is little or no trust in this troubled world and assumptions are made immediately by the ignorant locals who only see what they want to see. From personal experience, I’m ashamed to admit I too have had stereotyped Indigenous people to some degree as was present in the film.
Not knowing what these people have experienced up until this point in my life has definitely enlightened me to see a different side towards Indigenous culture. Through one of the challenging moments in the film, desperate and hungry Delilah is wandering distractedly through Alice Springs’ coffee shops.She is trying to hawk a small painting she had made under the guidance of her grandmother, and to the rejection, disdain and degradation to which she was subjected. This situation has impacted upon the real streets of Alice Springs, Jennifer Mills reports, “… they’ll be no more Delilah’s on its streets. ”2 In early 2010, a law was enforced by Alice Springs Town Council declaring a ban upon Aboriginal people from selling their art in the mall.
3 “Painting sellers have been a familiar sight to residents and tourists for years. For many tourists, the person from whom they buy a painting will be the only Aboriginal person with whom they have a conversation in Alice”4 Mills states. While Delilah was experiencing this harsh rejection in the film, as a viewer, it was at a point where you generally felt sorry for her, and question if this is a real life struggle for Indigenous people.Mills writes “The street trading harms no one, though perhaps it inconveniences the businesses in the Alice Springs mall who wish to avoid painting sellers hassling their customers.
Many of those businesses are art galleries, but most have several more zeros after their prices and are, as all acknowledge, targeting very different markets. ”5 This made me reflect upon the scene where Delilah walked into an Indigenous Art store, helplessly trying to get her work oticed and put up for sale, only with the owner of the store quickly looking at her and stating “not interested. ” Mills’ article has made a strong connection with “Samson and Delilah” and made myself more aware of how real the struggle for Indigenous people can be. As brutal as it may be, Mills’ truthful words explain a feeling I felt through the viewing of the film: “Residents of Alice Springs reject the notion that their town is rife with racism and violence, but unless they admit there is a problem, nothing will change. 6 The relationship between Samson and Delilah grew to a point where they really cared for each other, and it seemed that only them themselves would look after and respect each other, as opposed to the non-Indigenous people living in Alice Springs to help them with their struggle. As only recently leaving my teenage years myself, its sorrowful to know there are younger teenagers of an Indigenous background who struggle as much as the characters of Samson and Delilah.
This film has begun an open-minded outcome towards my understanding and acceptance of Indigenous art, culture and design. With a Visual Communication background, being able to see how this culture handles their artwork in terms of its meaning and process helps me reflect on the similarities in how I approach my design methods and work. Although I still have much to learn, my first time viewing of “Samson and Delilah” has given me a much higher and respectful view towards the Indigenous culture that is present in our country. ———————- 1 DVD Art + Soul 2 Jennifer Mills: “Alice, Samson and Delilah: On the Street Under the Intervention” 3 Jennifer Mills: “Alice, Samson and Delilah: On the Street Under the Intervention” 4 Jennifer Mills: “Alice, Samson and Delilah: On the Street Under the Intervention” 5 Jennifer Mills: “Alice, Samson and Delilah: On the Street Under the Intervention” 6 Jennifer Mills: “Alice, Samson and Delilah: On the Street Under the Intervention”