MOKITA is an attempt to articulate contemporary secular practices,
outside of traditional religious or spiritual paradigms,
with the intention of providing means to transmute grief and its related emotions.
We are interested in addressing the denial of the dissonant feelings that can arise
from change or loss. In a global climate of uncertainty, of volatility and rapid change, apathy becomes a tool for survival.
Change = Loss = Grief
How then do we begin to recover the authentic emotional self that has been numbed or disassociated? At the core of MOKITA is the desire to create a safe, contemplative space
to consider grief. Whether that means attending to an already identified grief,
or needing the space in which to articulate or embrace a previously unacknowledged feeling. We consider grief to extend beyond the common parameters of death and tragedy. A sense of loss can extend from lots of types of change, and these experiences are disenfranchised in that there is no common collective practise for processing them.
This disenfranchised grief, rising for example from the extensive environmental damage or knowledge of human genocide, warfare or abuse,
is what we hope to address in this contemporary ritual.
Grief is not defined as the mourning of death alone,
but the incremental discomforts, dissonances,
upsets and melancholia of living in a contemporary world.
We hope to create in MOKITA a space that gives permission for these senses to be felt and expressed, a rebirth and recovery in consolidating the difficult parts of our emotions forgotten or silenced, and a collective communion in our shared humanity through ritual.
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MOKITA is being performed on the lands of the Kulin Nations - Bunurong/Boon Wurrung, Wurundjeri, Taungurong, Dja Dja Warrung and Wathaurung/Wadawurrung.
We acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land and pay our respestcs to Elders, past and present. We are committed to honoring Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ unique cultural and spiritual relationships to the land, waters and seas, and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.
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A Note on the Title:
MOKITA is a Papua New Guinean word in the Kilivila language. The word, meaning ‘the truth we all know and have agreed not to talk about’ sparked the concept of this work, as conceived by Luna Mrozik-Gawler and co-devised together with Devika Bilimoria and Nithya Iyer. The artists acknowledge the origins of this word in the Papua New Guinean Kilivila language and recognise the privilege exercised in being able to employ this word in the creation of an artistic project in Australia that is not based in the Papua New Guinean cultural practice. The artists do not assert any relevance between the work and Papua New Guinean culture beyond the definition of this term. The artists engage the term for this project due to the absence of such a term in the English language, and further acknowledge the inherent conflicts of cultural appropriation in language for artistic purposes. As such the artists posit the question: what does it mean to live in a Westernized culture that does not have a word for this way of being that we are all party to? What does it mean that we must borrow words from other languages to refer to a feeling or sense that we have, but have not been told how to address? As citizens of Australia, the artists perceive that the idea of ‘mokita’ is one that exists in Australia – and indeed the world – and that the very absence of a term with this meaning in the English language indicates a further emotional muting that has co-opted the power of language to constrain emotional acknowledgement and expression of the collective concerns of humanity.
In identifying this word in the Kilivila language, and in sharing such strong resonance with its meaning, the artists are made further aware of the importance of artistic and intellectual practice that is informed by non-Western language, culture and ideology, not as a compliment to mainstream perspectives, but as valid alternate intellectual paradigm in which to view the world.
If not for ‘Mokita’, what is a term that we in the Western world could use to address this sensation? How can we, collectively, as the people who live in this society in Australia, find a way to reference this feeling that we share? These are questions we hope to explore in our processing of this work.