Cover image of the review
Still from Alice Rohrwacher and JR, *Omelia Contadina,* 2020

JR and Alice Rohrwacher, Omelia Contadina and Homily to Country (2020) at NGV Triennial

3 Apr 2021
19 Dec - 18 Apr 2021

The procession enters the field, called forth by a clean-shaven, elderly man with thin lips who is wearing a black cap, white shirt and a black jacket. Around fifty Italian farm workers and musicians sombrely walk to surround a pit cut into the ground by a big yellow excavator. The giant black and white effigy of a living contadino is ritualistically buried while the onlookers gather and stare directly at the camera. A fugue plays and the band appears in shot. Speaking their local dialect, the farmers read out excerpts from the writings of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Rachel Carson, the “scientist poet of the sea”. I watch all this occur while seated in the Grollo Equiset Garden at the NGV.

The ten-minute short is titled Omelia Contadina (2020), which translates literally to “Peasant Homily”. It is a collaboration between the Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher and the French artist JR. Omelia Contadina is currently on display alongside JR’s Homily to Country (2020), a project featuring an installation of stained-glass windows depicting Australian farmers and First Nations traditional owners for the NGV’s second Triennial in the same part of the courtyard where Yhonnie Scarce and Edition Office had shown their award-winning architectural commission, In Absence, in 2019. Omelia Contadina is also available on JR’s YouTube channel, where it was published on 16 November 2020. The film premiered out of competition at La Biennale di Venezia film festival in early September 2020.

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