Claire G. Coleman and Jen Rae <em>Refugium</em> 2021 (still); HD video. Writers: Jen Rae and Claire G. Coleman; director: Dramaturg Kamarra Bell-Wykes; director of photography and editor: Devika Bilmoria; sound: Marco Cher-Gibard; make-up: Danielle Ruth, WowFX; hair: Tor Hellande. Courtesy of the artist<br/>
© The Centre for Reworlding

Claire Coleman and Jen Rae

Claire G. Coleman
(b. 1974, Boorloo/Perth. Lives and works in Naarm/Melbourne)
Jen Rae
(b. 1973, Amiskwacîwâskahikan (ᐊᒥᐢᑿᒌᐚᐢᑲᐦᐃᑲᐣ)/Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Lives and works in Djaara country/Castlemaine, Victoria)

First Nations author Claire G. Coleman and artist-researcher Jen Rae collaborate on the Centre for Reworlding project, which aims to bolster inclusive collaboration and creative leadership on climate emergency response and action. Refugium, 2021, is a short film produced by the Centre and was the winner of the Incinerator Gallery Award for Social Change in 2021.

Refugium literally means ‘place of refuge’ in Latin, and is a term used in biology to describe an area in which a population of organisms can survive through a period of unfavourable environmental conditions. In the film, which is set in the year 2042, Coleman and Rae patch through calls from the future to warn of an upcoming apocalypse. 

This work of speculative fiction implicitly addresses the audience to consider the present climate emergency as a state of apocalypse. It asks: How would the world have been prior to colonial disruption? What would a world centred by First Nations knowledge and protocols look like? What skills and knowledges that future generations of First Nations may need for survival are at the thresholds of being forever lost, overlooked or undervalued?

Coleman is a Noongar woman whose ancestral country is on the south coast of Western Australia. Her debut novel Terra Nullius (2017), published in Australia and in the United States, won a Norma K. Hemming Award and was shortlisted for the Stella Prize. Her second novel The Old Lie was published in 2019, her first non-fiction book Lies, Damn Lies in 2021, and her third novel Enclave in 2023. She is currently working on a commissioned play for Melbourne Theatre Company and is lead writer at the Centre for Reworlding.

Rae is an award-winning artist-researcher of Canadian Métis and Scottish descent. Her practice-led research is centred around cultural responses to the climate emergency. Her work is engaged in discourses around food justice, disaster preparedness and speculative futures. She is the Director of Fair Share Fare, a core artist of Arts House’s REFUGE project, and leads the development of the Centre for Reworlding in collaboration with the Reworlding Collective and the Council of Grandmothers, Mothers, Sisters and Aunties.

Refugium appeared in Community Hall on 17–23 Apr 2023.

Film credits
HD single channel video, 26 minutes

Written by Jen Rae and Claire G Coleman
Director and Dramaturg Kamarra Bell-Wykes
Director of Photography and Edit Devika Bilmoria
Sound Marco Cher-Gibard
Make Up Danielle Ruth, WowFX
Hair Tor Hellande

Warnings: Contains profanity and discussing the climate emergency, apocalypse, euthanasia, gender violence, suicide and filicide, and might be distressing to some people

The Centre for Reworlding presents REFUGIUM. The first video transmission of the film was part of First Assembly of the Centre for Reworlding, a participatory palaver event at Arts House in 2021.