We Can Be Heroes – TARNTANYA / ADELAIDE is an evocative sky-based inflatable artwork based on the City of Adelaide footprint. The inflatables took their first flight on October 15 in Light Square / Wauwi as part of the 2022 Nature Festival.
Conceived by Paul Gazzola, the project brought together artists Jay Milera – Narungga / Kaurna, Tom Borgas, light/video designer Nic Mollison and South African architect / designer Julian Mentz in the creation of a highly unique and openly accessible public art outcome that reinterprets Indigenous and Western cultural knowledge of the Southern sky.
These unmissable sky-based sculptures gathered and reunited the public as it shifts their gaze upwards. Members of the public were invited to hold the lines as well as contribute their thoughts, feelings and responses to the artwork that were be projected onto the inflatables at night. We Can Be Heroes uses a unique form of sky-sited art to deliver a unique contemporary public art project with incredible public reach, democratic intention, and social resonance.
The story behind the artwork by Jay Milera
TARNDA: The Kangaroo is a representative of (Tarnda) Red Kangaroo Dreaming and Lore that covers an area starting from Cape Jervis in the south and travels north crossing over Adelaide City Area and ending at Crystal Brook.
THE SEVEN SISTERS: There are seven circles in the sky. Each one represents seven springs of “Tjilbruke’s” tears created as he wailed, and those same 7 circles represent the “Seven Sisters”. Long ago in the Dreaming time there were seven sisters who were out foraging for food in the bush when they came across two hunters from a different skin group. They invited the men to share their food and drink but slowly realized that they had other intentions. The sisters, who did not want to break the traditional laws that forbid relationships with other skin groups outside their clan group, fled their camp with the men in pursuit. The Ancestral Spirits, who were watching over the sisters, saved them by lifting them into the sky where they assumed the form of the stars that we know as the Pleiades. Now at night in the hemispheres, you can see the Seven Sisters still being pursued but never to be caught. The artwork represents the unified connection of Kaurna people to their ancestors of land and sky and to Tarnda the Red Kangaroo.
The first iteration of We Can Be Heroes was commissioned by the Program for Innovation in Art form Development (PIAD) and premiered at the Vrystatt Arts Festival in Bloemfontein, South Africa. It was created in collaboration with South African artist Marius Jansen van Vuuren and local Bloemfontein participants.