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Ryan Andrew Lee: Temples of Doom

Ryan Andrew Lee: Temples of Doom, MAMA QEII Square Screen 2022

Temples of Doom was a moving image work that engaged the issue of endangered pagoda rock formations and sacred First Nations rock-art sites in the recently announced Gardens of Stone State Conservation area of the Greater Blue Mountains.

The work exposed the irreparable damage caused by Centennial Coal Companies' Angus Place and Mount Airly Mines, as well as the abandoned Baal Bone Colliery. These ancient sandstone and ironstone pagoda structures which took around one million years to form each 8 m of their height, are exhibiting subsidence cracks, and many are completely collapsing due to the tunneling and extraction of coal 250-300 m directly below the surface. The anthropogenic deterioration of these unique rock structures are also leading to Aboriginal rock art sites situated in caves or under escarpments such as Maiyingu Marragu, at risk of being destroyed.

The title of the work adopted the name of one of the locations of pagodas in the Lidsdale area. Now, ironically and unfortunately, this is becoming a fitting name for the entire area. The title alluded that it's only a matter of time before all of these pagoda landscapes would be destroyed forever.

The work questioned the cogency and efficacy of the NSW government's environmental protection 'State Conservation Area' category, which claimed to protect a natural area whilst still allowing detrimental mining operations to continue, destroying several million-year-old irreplaceable rock formations and endangering many sacred Aboriginal rock art sites.


Temples of Doom was filmed at various locations on Wiradjuri and Dharug Country and depicts the lands of the Wiradjuri and and Dharug peoples. We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians upon whose unceded land this work was realised, pay respect to their Elders past and present and extend our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from all nations of this land.

Thank you to Rae and Yuri Bolotin as well as The Lithgow Environmental Group for the ongoing support and mentorship. This work was overseen and fact-checked by Yuri Bolotin and The Lithgow Environmental Group.

About the Artist

Ryan Andrew Lee is a conceptual new media artist whose practice explores alternative ontologies and epistemologies which are strongly informed by First Nations people and community. His work employs experimental film-making processes including cinema vérité and slow cinema to present contemplative observations on contemporary environmental and socio-political issues.

Lee's work explores interdisciplinary thematics of psychogeography, deep topography and landscapism to suggest deeper sense and perception of place in order to restore and preserve ecological, historical and cultural knowledge and values. Across his practice, Lee strives to create works that resonate a deeper level of consciousness with the intent to unify all things.

Lee holds a BMA (Digital Media) from the University of New South Wales College of Fine Arts and has exhibited at numerous galleries and festivals across Australia and the world.