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.
Tjanpi Desert Weavers
Ngaanyatjarra Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (NPY) fiber artworks, known as Tjanpi, may appear as innocuous works of traditional women’s handicraft: baskets, bowls, figurative soft sculpture. This does not, however, deradicalize the gesture contained in their form. Chapter 5 tracks how, within less than ten years, Tjanpi has become high Aboriginal art, moving from a secular-based art form using secular (imported) grasses to a becoming-traditional art form, utilizing local lands-based grasses for works that reveal Tjukurpa (the Dreaming) today, as they take shape across the highly traveled homelands and in the everyday hands and lifeworlds of NPY female artists. Tjanpi demonstrates how important ways of doing and being are to practice-based, life-making aesthetics. The haptic viscera of country, of women’s life work, is itself woven into the object form, making the work of Tjanpi exemplary in the work of remote avant-garde aesthetics—not over there, elsewhere, remote, but pressingly close vital materialism.