Kristian Laemmle-Ruff, Woomera – Melissa Pesa
Over the past 70 years, many have heeded the warnings posted along the perimeters of the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA), the largest and most technologically advanced weapons testing range in the world. However, with restriction comes curiosity. In ‘Woomera’, Kristian LaemmleRuff sheds light on this questionable and highly confidential place.
The core of your practice lies in the ‘investigation of contemporary sites of colonialism and militarism in Australia’. What drew you to Woomera?
I feel a calling to explore these places partly because of how little they are talked about in mainstream culture. The fact that defence areas are remote, highly secretive and restricted means that a void exists around them. It is in these ‘off-limits’ spaces where I find opportunity to start a conversation and create awareness. I want my work to be part of a greater dialogue around learning our true history. I think it’s important as a nation to choose understanding over ignorance. Art can help us make this choice. The subtext underlying much of my work is encouraging people to question the role these military facilities have in our society. Who do they really serve? What impact do they continue to have on people and ecology? How could we transform these spaces to support life and future generations rather than the ‘progress’ of military corporations and empire?
What were you hoping to capture, and what was the result?
Inside the WPA I found surprising tranquility and beauty: rolling red sand dunes, brilliant salt-lakes mirroring open skies, mobs of emus roaming through Mulga scrub. However, all of