Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Clothing the postcolonial body: art, artifacts and action in south eastern Australia

Clothing the postcolonial body: art, artifacts and action in south eastern Australia

By Sylvia Kleinert



Sylvia Kleinert is Adjunct Associate Professor at the Australian National University and Charles Darwin University. Her research addresses questions related to Indigenous cultural production.


Aunty Matilda House and Lee Darroch, Possum Skin Cloak Workshop, Photo Elena Green. craft+design enquiry Issue 2


Abstract: In this paper I explore the significance of dress as an expressive and performative genre within contemporary art in south eastern Australia. My aim is to build on and expand recent studies in cross-cultural discourse to offer a broader, more inclusive framework for contemporary art practice in the south east grounded in dynamic Aboriginal cosmologies that demonstrate both continuity and innovation. Specifically I will examine two arenas of practice usually treated as separate domains: the revitalization of fibre seen in shell necklaces, baskets and possum skin cloaks – once worn or carried on the body - and the appropriation by artists of items of colonial and contemporary dress such as blankets, trousers, knitwear and T-shirts. My research reveals how art, as a form of action, contributes to social and cultural sustainability by engaging with an Aboriginal landscape and a postcolonial world to imagine ‘cultural futures.’


Full paper published in craft+design enquiry ; Issue 2 Cross Cultural exchanges in craft and design

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