Presenting BLAK BOX: Sydney’s architecturally-designed sound pavilion

Urban Theatre Projects (UTP) is delighted to unveil BLAK BOX: a world-premiere, architecturally-designed sound pavilion sharing First Peoples’ stories at Barangaroo Reserve from 2 to 24 June. The state-of-the-art and surround-sound space has been purposely designed by globally-renowned architect Kevin O’Brien. The harbour-side pavilion will be filled with a powerful suite of newly commissioned sound works curated by Daniel Browning, presenter on ABC Radio National. The works bring together a moving range of contemporary Aboriginal voices to respond to the past, present and future of the Barangaroo site.

BLAK BOX offers audiences a vantage point for a wider exploration of the First People’s relationship with their waters through that most compelling and fleeting artefact of human consciousness – sound. The inaugural BLAK BOX program is titled humechochorus (hum echo chorus) and comprises commissioned oral histories of the harbour headland before 1788, informal interviews and spoken word performances. These will sit alongside over 15 separate commissioned sound pieces comprising original music and hydrophone field recordings taken from underwater at the site. Together the works offer a sound stream of consciousness blending stories of the past (echo), the present (hum) and an imagined future (chorus).

UTP’s Artistic Director, Rosie Dennis says: “BLAK BOX is one of our most ambitious projects to date – bringing together design, installation and sound for a completely unique contemporary storytelling experience for audiences. Daniel has curated an intelligent, layered and thought-provoking program which grapples with the complexity of urban development, place and history.”

UTP is delighted to work for the first time with Barangaroo Delivery Authority to present this powerful and important new pavilion at Barangaroo: Australia’s next cultural precinct and Sydney’s newest creative stage for leading-edge public art and programming. The pavilion will be situated at Barangaroo Reserve in Sydney for three weeks before it tours nationally. The 2018 world-premiere project marks the beginning of a three-year partnership with UTP and Barangaroo Delivery Authority which will commission a suite of new art and sound installations at the site at the same time each year until 2020.

BLAK BOX is a cutting-edge surround-sound listening space, built with recyclable and reusable materials and designed for audiences to experience contemporary First Peoples’ stories. Ambitious in vision, BLAK BOX is stripped-back storytelling with minimal lighting and the sound of the human voice blending stories for groups of 30 visitors at a time. BLAK BOX straddles sound, architecture, temporary public art and creative writing.

BLAK BOX embraces the First Peoples concept of ‘deep listening’ which is based on stories, silences and the spaces that lie between. The BLAK BOX experience invites audiences to join this shared process of deep listening. It is an innovative and unique model for the exploration of sound and language from a First Peoples perspective.

Daniel Browning is one of Australia’s most respected commentators on Indigenous visual arts. A journalist and broadcaster on ABC Radio National (RN), Browning is from the Bundjalung and Kullilli peoples of far northern New South Wales and south-western Queensland. Browning is also a visual arts graduate of the Queensland University of Technology. Since 2005, Browning has produced and presented the Awaye! Indigenous art and culture program on ABC RN.

Kevin O’Brien is an architect of Kaurereg and Meriam descent. He is globally renowned for his designs which draw on Aboriginal concepts of space. O’Brien’s Finding Country exhibition was an official Collateral Event of the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale 2012. The designer has also received multiple National and State Awards from the Australian Institute of Architects. O’Brien is widely accepted as one of the country’s leading architects and a pioneer in his field and this ambitious undertaking will be a milestone in his already impressive career. The BLAK BOX design features similar materials and design principles to previous examples of O’Brien’s award-winning architecture by harnessing natural light and presenting a sleek aesthetic whilst maintaining environmental friendliness and a connection to Country.

Karen Norris has worked extensively as a lighting designer in Australia, the United Kingdom and Europe. In Australia she has worked for numerous theatre and dance companies including Bangarra Dance Theatre, Belvoir Street Theatre, Red Shed Theatre Company, State Theatre of South Australia, Griffin Theatre Company and One Extra. In 2008 Karen returned to Australia after living in France and her work has since included designs for the opera Ingkarta Project (Adelaide Festival 2008), Noel Jordon’s In the Shape of a Girl (Sydney Opera House), Love Me Tender (Director Matt Lutton for Company B, PICA and Griffin Theatre Company), Hansel and Gretel (Pacific Opera), and Christine Douglas.

UTP is based in Bankstown and boasts a 35-year history of making ground-breaking work and its reputation has never been stronger than it is today. The company was created to reimagine what theatre can be, and who it can be for. BLAK BOX is one of its most ambitious works yet, as the company continues to scale to new heights of artistic invention. UTP has also caught the attention of art lovers from across the city who now readily travel to new neighbourhoods for its unforgettable art experiences. Now it is bringing its own brand of art and conversation to the heart of Sydney’s busy CBD.

UTP has long been a major player in Australia’s cultural landscape. In the past five years it has reached even greater heights with Rosie Dennis at the helm. This project will build that profile even further and cement UTP’s reputation for creating artworks that tell contemporary Australian stories in surprising ways. BLAK BOX will continue to uphold the UTP mantra of making artworks that explore personal stories within a universal context, to reflect important issues unfolding in Australia both past and present.



Curator: Daniel Browning

Architect: Kevin O’Brien

Lighting Designer: Karen Norris

Lead Builder: David Hawkes


JOEL DAVISON (Gadigal language worker); SHANNON FOSTER (D’harawal saltwater knowledge keeper); CURTIS KENNEDY (musician/composer); Professor JOHN MAYNARD (historian); Professor JAKELIN TROY (linguist); and TEILA WATSON (writer/spoken word artist)


Date: 2 June to 24 June 2018

Times: 5:30-9pm Tuesday – Saturday / 2:30-6pm Sunday. Closed Monday.

Duration: A mixture of 30 minute and 60 minute sessions

Location: Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney

Cost: FREE. Bookings recommended.

Information and bookings:

BLAK BOX has been supported by the Barangaroo Delivery Authority.

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