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