The Sacrifice

by Toby Juliff

Friday 21 August – Saturday 12 September 2020

Impending climate catastrophe has turned even the atheist to prayer. Please, spare us Lord. And in return, we promise to lead a more just life.

At the conclusion of Andrei Tarkovsky’s last great cinematic masterpiece The Sacrifice (1986) its lead character, convinced of a nuclear endgame enters a prayer to God. Spare my family and I will sacrifice all my worldly belongings. When the end fails to arrive, he does just that. A huge pyre of house and belongings, executed in exquisite detail by an artist-filmmaker over six excruciating minutes.

The question of what to spare, what to sacrifice, has taken on new sets of values and spaces since the war games of the 1980s. We find ourselves driven to petition, and yes, sometimes to prayer, for those things that we believe in.

Thanks to collaborations with Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre and Tasmania Fire Service, artist Toby Juliff has re-imagined Tarkovsky’s last great moment using locally sourced audio recordings of hazard reduction burnings. These burnings have managed and maintained this precarious and precious landscape for thousands of years. Transported into a cinematic masterpiece, the sound of fire becomes a locus for us to meditate on loss and necessary sacrifice.