/19 Australia

Daniel Boetker-Smith

The Murray River Project (2010-2014)

The Murray River is Australia’s longest waterway, meandering through the South-East of the country from the Snowy Mountains to the Southern Ocean; however it is in fact not a river at all – in its pre-European form it was a undulating channel susceptible to seasonal droughts and floods, and would constantly change course along its at 2530km length.

Over the many decades since European settlement the river has become a wrought and controlled system of dams, weirs and channels that have restricted and politicized its flow. Each year the river and the environment within which it exists characteristically struggles and rails against these methods of man-made control. This resistance formulates a metaphor for the story of Australia itself, and the tension between what was and what is.

This long-term series combines portraits, still-lifes and landscapes to create The Murray River Project, a modern-day compendium of stories found along the Murray, delving into the environmental and social landscapes that stretch along it. The project’s unfolding narrative takes its inspiration from the original form of the river itself – a poignant model of visual storytelling that is non-linear and multi-layered — the narraitve progresses and meanders susceptible to unexpected turns and digressions – just like life, like memory, and like the river itself.