There is so much entertainment made for kids that is equally exciting and terrifying. Exaggerated gestures, hyper-saturated colours and often psychedelic storylines, so many of the children’s tv shows I watched as a kid scared the living daylights out of me but simultaneously drew me back every day for more - Barney, The Ferals, Johnson and Friends. During the festive season, this also extended to the Adelaide Christmas pageant. The floats are transfixing! Each one is easily as big as a church in my memory. Their lolling heads, people standing atop waving like queens - sometimes coming as close so as to high five - but mostly staying in their lane - like a convoy of visiting royals passing through as a detour in a quest from The Never-Ending Story. And they’re heading towards the David Jones Magic Cave. If you go (or went) to the Magic Cave, or any shopping mall Santa booth, you’ll know there are lines of thrilled kids waiting their turn to sit on Santa’s Lap to ask for whatever it is. And their parents waiting to get a picture of their children. But a quick internet search will tell you that although this photographic tradition has been hugely popular for decades, there are far more images available of children crying on Santa’s lap than of children smiling. I wanted to make something that reflected for me this combined feeling of cheer, alarm, excitement and otherworldly-ness that the pageant had for me.
Emmaline Zanelli is from Kaurna Yerta (Adelaide, South Australia). Her highly performative practice is lensbased, involving aspects of installation and sculpture. A consistent theme throughout her work is memory, which is something she is interested in exploring broadly — from understanding motivations to research prehistoric life to how her grandmother’s memories may be imparted on to her. Zanelli completed a Bachelor of Visual Art & Design at the Adelaide College of the Arts in 2015 and a Master of Arts - Photography at Photography Studies College in Melbourne in 2021.