Качанка is a Russian name of the river that takes its beginning at the “Progress” village.  In Ukrainian, it’s a name for a rock melon type…  But in Australian folk linguistics “kachanka” means “a container for junk.” This name was given to our art machine (a project with Marita Batna) which was launched during Geelong After Dark 2018 (GAD), 4th of May 2018, as Sailing Museum-Machine. The project started with an idea for a mobile art platform that would be a hybrid machine, designed for road travel, yet representing a boat. I thought that an older caravan would be a good starting point and soon came across a 1960s Franklin caravan (most likely manufactured in Ballarat) that was buried in a building yard in the coastal town of Torquay. The work continued for several months: it turned out that the time & weather had destroyed 90% of wood and plywood structure, that had to be replaced along with the tow-bar. The internal features of the caravan were all taken out except for the shelves. The door was turned into a wall and a new opening was cut out in the place of one of rear windows to erect a door-ramp. When the structure was finished I designed and installed the gaff rig sail unit on the roof and an interactive external “controls” panel with colourful lights, wheel and artefacts of marine navigation devices. The whole artistic adventure of Качанка would not have been possible without the help and advice from my long-time boating and diving friend Craig Elstone who also gave many authentic artefacts for Качанка and was the person behind the idea of her name…

To go back in time, the original inspiration for the project was South Channel Fort, a little known man-made sea fort island hidden in the Port Phillip Bay near Melbourne, with fortification ruins, and an amazing underground tunnel system evidencing the obsolescence of what was once a key strategic military site of colonial settlement. It was built in 1880s out of fear of Russian invasion, since the gold resources in Melbourne, connected to the bay, were seen as an attraction for British enemies… Eventually, Качанка is written in Russian as a reference to this history. My cultural inspiration for Качанка aesthetics was a mix of Russian constructivism and steam punk industrial style. For GAD we presented Качанка as a mobile museum concept which also held a reference to avant-garde museology, in particular, mobile trucks that were operated as multi-functional arts cultural agitators. The show at GAD was a pilot agitation action of Creative Occupation group – an initiative that Marita has started through our artistic expeditions to South Channel Fort and its artistic occupation.  Качанка is a sculptural fabulation related to the island (a boat that once might have been actively trading amongst the islands of the bay) and acts as a ‘telematic’ portal connecting to it. For this first outing, the windows of Качанка were built as tunnels and screened images taken on the island by Creative Occupation group members. The inside room was designed as a replica of fisherman’s shed with buoys, old markers, nets and tools. The underwater footage taken at South Channel Fort was projected inside and on the external wall. During the GAD night we could not set up the whole sail due to extreme wind, so we used old marine flags instead. Качанка is waiting for more public action performances with Creative Occupation group and a future mobile business related to speculative innovative technology products developed by using old media archetypes and artefacts.

Photo shoot near Dog Rocks Reserve, Batesford, AU.
Setting up the sail, Batesford, AU.
Качанка sailing towards the sunset, Batesford, AU.
Promotional image for Geelong After Dark 2018
Johnstone Park, Geelong After Dark 2018
South Channel Fort Island, Port Phillip Bay
Projection on Качанка, Geelong After Dark 2018.
Screen tunnel, Geelong After Dark
Качанка at Geelong After Dark 2018, Johnstone Park.
Mobile Museum Качанка holding artefacts from Corio Bay and Port Philip Bay, Geelong After Dark 2018.
Johnstone Park, Geelong After Dark 2018.
Launching Качанка (pictured – Marita Batna and myself), Geelong After Dark 2018.

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