Of Rats and Roses is a documentary film and photographic project following the life and transformation of Milly Rose.
When I began documenting Milly, I knew her as Rat, a flamboyant street punk who liked to dress in DIY fashion and who had invented upwards of twenty alter egos, each of whom had been given comically colourful back stories that satirised people and icons from personal history.
After a period of reclusion, Rat had found a new lease of life when he met Marisa, a young woman with an equal love of costume and everyday performance. Each Saturday Rat would meet Marisa in the Melbourne inner city suburbs of Fitzroy and Collingwood, dressing up along themes dreamed up the previous weekend, such as 'bus trip to mars' or 'picnic at the rubbish tip'.
One night, Rat was encouraged to attend a drag performance, stepping out for the first time in over a decade in feminine attire. This experience inspired a life-changing journey to discover a singular identity as a woman - Milly Rose.
Capturing the vibrant and gritty street culture of Melbourne’s inner northern suburbs - in particular the bohemian and queer performance art communities - Of Rats and Roses is a vision of a time and place that both celebrates individual creative expression as well as attacks it. As some people’s social attitudes change for the better, others are still locked in old ways, but Milly resiliently and unapologetically refuses to conform.
There are many layers to Milly's story, since her troubled youth in boy's homes and on the streets, weaving through multiple eras of Australian subculture, to her current evolution. Now in her mid-sixties, she looks towards a future in which past wounds are finally healed and she can continue to find happiness in herself and inspire those around her.
Milly’s lived history is deeply intertwined with her creative inventions and storytelling, expressed with humour, honesty, irreverence and a provocative punk spirit.
This project is currently in development / production.
A portrait of a town under the spell of a lucid dream, Tasogare documents the uncanny threshold between day and night and the ways time is revealed though processes of entropy, cycles of nature, movement and ceremony. An impressionistic audiovisual poem moving from light into dark, reflecting the syncretism of Buddhist and Shinto philosophies and Japanese folklore.
The work features performance artist Mark Kleine as the transgender Shinto deity Ishi Kore Dome, 16th generation Japanese tea ceremony master Fuyuko Kobori performing chanoyu, biwa musician Kenji Mizoguchi playing to a chorus of cicadas, and artist Yuki Negishi performing Bon Odori.
Single channel digital video, sound
This work was exhibited as an installation in Onishi, Japan in April 2017 and will premiere as a short screen based work as part of Video Visions at ACMI, curated by Channels Festival, in September 2017.
A silent meditation on the passing of time, Mono No Aware was filmed every day over a span of three weeks to capture the life cycle of sakura in rural Japan. The structure of the composition - images change at 5 second intervals - reflects this relentless and inevitable procession towards death and renewal, and also the structure of the flower itself.
This work has been exhibited in Onishi, Japan.
Mono No Aware, 2017
Single channel digital video
The video work Sellisternium takes the idea of a ritual gathering of feminine deities and collapses the boundaries between ancient, contemporary and future incarnations of mythology.
In a shadowy room outside of time, spirit beings create and destroy, playing with the continuous thread of dreams, nightmares and visions that connects humankind to the mysteries of existence.
This work was commissioned and presented at Found Festival 2015, Melbourne, Australia.
Single channel video, stereo sound
Electric Dream Machine is a contemporary, digital update to Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville’s analog 1961 Dreamachine – a perforated cylinder that produces a strobe effect as it revolves on a turntable. The original work was inspired by new discoveries in neuroscience, and the belief that viewing these patterns of light generates neural oscillations that can heighten consciousness and creativity.
Electric Dream Machine explores ways the mind can be physically transformed by external stimuli, without altering its chemistry. It is designed to induce a meditative or hallucinatory state in the viewer’s brain through the use of specific alpha wave stimulating frequencies of sound and light.
Exhibited in 2014/2015 at House of Bricks Gallery (Melbourne), SPAN at City Library curated by the Food Court ARI (Melbourne), and curated by ACMI at Sydney Contemporary 2015.
Electric Dream Machine, 2014
8 minutes / looped
Single channel video, stereo binaural sound
force / field is a cinematic movement ritual based on the symbolism and structure of the King Wen sequence of the I Ching (Book of Changes). The multilayered composition integrates elements of the ancient Chinese divination system’s mathematics and its interpretations relating to physics and metaphysics to create a harmonic relationship between opposing and complementary forces.
Drawing from concepts of energy and energy systems, the improvised performance is a kind of trance or meditation – a spontaneous embodiment of sound vibrations. Through the immediacy of this approach the recording captures something universally and uniquely human.
The soundtrack uses vocal samples from a 1930s 78rpm vinyl record of Russian choirs, discovered in the composer’s grandfather’s shed. The song is a response to this found archive, reinvented for the present, and preserved for future discovery.
Longer version presented during Next Wave Festival, Melbourne, 2014. A shorter version of the work was included on a golden record designed by artist Susan Cohn as part of the Forever Now project, curated by Aphids, and presented at both the Substation in Melbourne and Mona Foma Festival in Hobart. During the latter live presentation, the work was broadcast into deep space via satellite in Miami.
video / concept / art direction: Adele Wilkes
performance / choreography: Brooke Stamp
music: Kane Ikin
Documentation photos: Bryony Jackson
1 minute / 4 minutes
Single channel video, stereo sound
Face is a kaleidoscopic documentary - a singular portrait made up of many faces - which delves into the private and public worlds of everyday human sexuality. The focus is on the people involved in Beautiful Agony, an ever-expanding collaborative art project that collates self-portraiture video recordings of orgasm faces.
Filtered through the director's experience as a participant of Beautiful Agony, initially working behind the camera and then turning the lens on herself, Face presents a collage of unique perspectives from individuals who have contributed to the project, plus the project's founder Lauren Olney and art theorist Edward Colless.
Considering Beautiful Agony as a logical development of self-portraiture in an age of accessible digital technology, the documentary explores the human face as a canvas for creative expression, and what it can reveal when recorded in an intimate way.
Commissioned by Screen Australia and ABCTV and produced by Matchbox Pictures.
Please contact to view a copy.
Viewer comments about Face from ABC Arts Message Board, February 2011:
"This was an excellent film. So rare that you get to see such purity."
"Congratulations on the beautiful doco. It was so refreshing to see sexuality on tv in all its rawness."
"Well done Adele - such a beautiful documentary. Your idea is brilliant, and I wish it was longer! I would love to see more of your visual art combined with the footage."
"The program is brilliant!!"
"Beautifully assembled. Flows so well, and doesn't give the viewer a chance to disengage for even a second… I was moved to tears by the film's conclusion. The whole viewing was such a visceral experience."
"this was the most beautiful, most moving, creative and emotive piece i've seen on TV in years. It's been a long time since i've been so transfixed by an idea, presented as well as this, in this medium… its something beautiful, challenging and engaging that you've created."
"Your control and composition of the projections was very beautiful."
"a very beautiful, thoughtful & thought-provoking film."
"Brave, impressive examination of a relatively taboo aspect of humanity."
"a very engaging and courageous piece of work."
Kala is a short observational documentary I made in 2007 about the traditional indigenous women's art of weaving in the remote Daly River region around Wadeye, Northern Territory, Australia. Co-directed, filmed and edited with Sabina Maselli.
This work was screened at Katrina Manton Gallery, Melbourne as part of the exhibition ‘Palngun Wurnangat Pepek Wurnmada’ (The Women with the Soft Hearts), featuring work from the Women's Art Centre, Palngun Wurnangat Aboriginal Corporation.