Remote Avant-Garde: Aboriginal Art under Occupation
Jennifer Loureide Biddle is Director of Visual Anthropology & Visual Culture and Senior Research Fellow at the National Institute for Experimental Arts at the University of New South Wales. She is the author of Breasts, Bodies, Canvas: Central Desert Art as Experience.
In Remote Avant-Garde Jennifer Loureide Biddle models new and emergent desert Aboriginal aesthetics as an art of survival. Since 2007, Australian government policy has targeted "remote" Australian Aboriginal communities as at crisis level of delinquency and dysfunction. Biddle asks how emergent art responds to national emergency, from the creation of locally hunted grass sculptures to biliterary acrylic witness paintings to stop-motion animation. Following directly from the unprecedented success of the Western Desert art movement, contemporary Aboriginal artists harness traditions of experimentation to revivify at-risk vernacular languages, maintain cultural heritage, and ensure place-based practice of community initiative. Biddle shows how these new art forms demand serious and sustained attention to the dense complexities of sentient perception and the radical inseparability of art from life. Taking shape on frontier boundaries and in zones of intercultural imperative, Remote Avant-Garde presents Aboriginal art "under occupation" in Australia today.
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