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Who is Nature?


Adrian Hearn in collaboration with the University of Melbourne


Cube 37 - Cube gallery
Thursday 18 February to Thursday 25 March
Limited Opening Hours T-F 11-4 Sat 9-2


Ventana Arte Opening Event Friday 26 February, 6pm


Who is Nature?  The exhibition considers this question from the perspectives of First Nation communities in Mexico, Cuba, and Australia.  It features a Virtual Reality journey guided by traditional elders.  Destinations include a sacred Mayan cenote lake, an Afro-Cuban medicinal forest, and the Nanda Dreamtime story of the Murchison River.

The urgent need for environmental action is generating new forms of human interaction with nature.  Among these is a growing awareness that First Nation communities around the world have already developed sophisticated mechanisms of ‘give-and-take’ with lakes, plants, landscapes, and other natural phenomena. 

In this exhibition we invite you to visit a Mayan sacred cenote lake and nature reserve in Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, a medicinal forest in Havana, and the landscape of Western Australia as it is sculpted by the Aboriginal Dreamtime serpent Beemarra.

Using a VR headset and touchscreen tablets, you can trigger buttons within these scenes to open interviews with elders and specialists, alongside texts and maps to illuminate their histories and cultures.  Asked what nature means to them, their responses reveal a broad and illuminating vision: nature is not a resource to be extracted but a living entity to engage in a relationship.  That is, Nature is not a "what" but a "who."  It is a message of ecological stewardship well suited to our times.

The film is set to an original soundtrack, composed collaboratively by Grammy Award winner Daniel Jauregui (Harmonic Whale Studio), Leonard Barker, and community arts organisation Suns of Mercury.


Adrian H. Hearn Biography

Director of Who is Nature?

Professor of Latin American Studies, the University of Melbourne

During my teenage years in Madison (Wisconsin), USA, I was invited into the weekly drumming ceremonies of a Native American Menominee community.  At the time I had been inspired by my grandfather from Rio de Janeiro to explore Brazilian cultural heritage in the spiritual music of Afoxê and Candomblé.  Both traditions had in common a deep respect for nature.

To investigate the nexus of nature and humanity, in 2019 I visited sacred sites – guided by community elders – in Mexico, Cuba, and Australia.  I recorded these encounters with a 360 camera, and when I returned to Melbourne in 2020 I began creating an interactive film. My goal is to share this perspective in an immersive and engaging way, and the result is “Who is Nature?”



Photo Credit: Adrian H. Hearn


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Cube Gallery Opening Hours
Limited Opening Hours T-F 11-4 Sat 9-2


Free Entry