Christopher Charles – BANJAWARN

Christopher Charles – BANJAWARN

CHRISTOPHER CHARLES – Kamikuishiki (Fuji from site of satian 7), Black and white Photograph, 2017 Image courtesy of the artist.

Uncovering the mystery of a Japanese doomsday cult in outback Australia.

The Australian outback is rich with unbelievable stories. In 1993 the Japanese doomsday cult Aum Shinrikyo bought a remote pastoral station at the edge of the Great Victorian Desert, 800km north-east of Perth. Two years later, the cult was behind a deadly chemical attack on the Tokyo subway.

Perth-born artist Christopher Charles recently returned after years in Europe, delves into the mystery surrounding the cult’s activities at Banjawarn station in his latest exhibition. Incorporating found propaganda such as animated cartoons, recruitment videos, songs and comics alongside a display of artefacts from the site, this mixed media exhibition – the artist’s first in Australia – presents a chilling yet fascinating expedition into the mythology of a cult.

The exhibition explores the psychology behind AS and their practices, which include appropriating elements of science fiction; blending of religious faiths; chemical, biological and electrical experiments; and mind control its many forms.

The AS sect was formed in Japan in 1984 by leader Shoko Asahara and claims to teach “The Supreme Truth”. They recruited young, wealthy university students, particularly scientists, and, at the time of the 1995 subway attack, claimed to have an estimated forty thousand members worldwide and a net worth of around more than a billion dollars. They performed bizarre purification and devotion rituals, depriving followers of food and sleep, and using psychedelic substances and electromagnetic mind-altering devices in their teachings. They purported through demonstration to have supernatural powers including levitation, extended underwater submersion and the ability to predict the future.

A  Perth Festival exhibition 

On View 9 Feb – 3 March

Mon-Fri 10am-4.45pm; Sat 12-4pm

Talk 4pm Saturday 17 February




Visual Arts Adventure