Ceridwen Dovey and Dr Rowena Potts

The Powerhouse Research Fellowship

March 2022

Project Title: Memorabilia: Exploring Space Objects as Repositories of Memory and Emotion in an Experimental Film

Ceridwen Dovey
Image: Ceridwen Dovey.
Rowena Potts
Image: Dr Rowena Potts.









What can space objects reveal to us about the social and emotional impacts of space exploration, and the way these meanings are sustained or transformed over time? This project investigates how a range of space artifacts and memorabilia in the Powerhouse archives and collections both celebrate and transcend the everyday, tilting towards the immortal through their association (however brief or tangential) with space. Through an unfolding, process-based practice of experimental filmmaking, Memorabilia explores how space memorabilia comes to be collected and stored for posterity, and why these objects exert such a strong pull on the human imagination.

Potts & Dovey are filmmakers, writers and visual anthropologists who are collaborating on a trilogy of short experimental films about the relationships that humans have with celestial objects (like the Moon), human-made space infrastructure (such as the International Space Station), and material objects linked to space exploration (for example, left-over Soviet space food packets and a fragment of the Skylab space station found in Australia’s Western Desert in 1979).

Memorabilia is the third film in this series and will be produced during Potts & Dovey’s tenure as Powerhouse Research Fellows. They will draw on the multiple repositories of space ephemera that are scattered across the Powerhouse collection to create an evocative film-poem that speaks to the fascination humans have always had with what lies beyond Earth and its atmosphere. As non-academic anthropologists with a commitment to real-world artistic practice and the communication of social scientific ideas to a broad audience, they hope their film will make artifacts in the Powerhouse collection available to the general public in a new way, and in an unexpected manner that engages, provokes and delights them.

Potts holds a PhD in Cultural Anthropology from New York University, and a graduate diploma in documentary from the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS). Her observational portrait of two New York pigeon breeders (They Come Home, 2017) won the Grand Jury prize for documentary short at the Independent Film Festival in Boston, and Moonrise (2021) has been selected for film festivals around Australia and internationally. To read more about her work, please visit her website.

Dovey is a prize-winning fiction writer and essayist, and a PhD candidate at Western Sydney University, where she’s doing a multi-genre creative project looking at ethical imaginaries of outer space. She’s the author of several works of fiction (Blood Kin, Only the Animals, In the Garden of the Fugitives, and Life After Truth), and non-fiction (On J.M. Coetzee: Writers on Writers and Inner Worlds Outer Spaces: The Working Lives of Others). Her essays on social and environmental ethics in outer space have been published by, WIRED, the Monthly and Alexander, and included in The Best Australian Science Writing collections for the past four years. She won a 2020 Australian Museum Eureka Award for Long-Form Science Journalism, and the UNSW Press Bragg Prize for Science Writing in both 2020 and 2021. She’s part of the group who co-created The Declaration of the Rights of the Moon, and was one of the team of advisors who helped guide the design of the space ethics kiosks for the Australia in Space exhibition at Questacon. To read some of Ceridwen’s recent published writing about ethics in outer space, please visit her website.