Victoria Ginn

The Spirited Earth:
Dance, Myth and Ritual from South Asia to the South Pacific

Photographs from the exhibition are available for purchase from the photographer as 750mm² limited edition archival prints.


[Left] An Aboriginal man of the Wik society ritualistically re-enacts a dreaming, of his clan’s creator heroes – the Pal-luuchan brothers – during the mythical Dreamtime. The story goes that: while travelling south across the land, the two heroes came upon ‘whalefish’ or Aakam, who had become crippled after submerging himself in the poisonous soft mud at the edge of the ocean. The brothers sang and danced about him as he staggered around on his crutches. When the brothers completed their songs and dances, ‘whalefish’ sank down, entering the earth at Walmoerichany-nhiin, which then became the story place of the whale and a sacred site to this clan. As with all Aboriginal ritual songs and dances, the performer is not merely imitating a mythical story and character but actually becoming the ‘whalefish’, thereby incorporating the mythic past and its powers into the present.

North Queensland, Australia
[Above] A dancer performing in the Kathakali tradition, a classical story-play style of Southern India which relies on mudras, or gestures, rather than speech to relay its stories, and colours to denote its character types. The dancer’s face is painted green – colour of heroic, kingly, and divine types – and he wears the sacred mark of Vishnu the Preserver on his forehead. The figure represents Krishna, the Vedic Hindu god and principle of love who came into the world to combat evil, a story that is told in the Mahabharata epic. As a young man of outstanding beauty and great musical prowess on the flute, Krishna caused all the young dairy-maids to fall hopelessly in love with him. He taught that divinity could be found within the self through the gradual intensification of physical love until its eventual entry, or shift, into the transcendent realm of cosmic and eternal creative energy. In Tantric Buddhism, Krishna the lover, is viewed as being a form assumed by the Great Goddess – Lalita. As an adult, Krishna’s most significant advice is that ‘all is illusion, including war and death’.

    Kerala, India.