Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Triumph of the Anti-Heroic

Surf Culture in Australia is a social abstraction derived from all classes with a shared use of one of the largest body of water on earth - the Pacific ocean. In a simular way to the experience of Aboriginal arts challenges to the dominant Australian art establishment over the past quarter of a century surf culture was a challenge to the conservative traditional authority systems tha t administered Australian culture prior to the 1960's.

The post war period (from 1945 - 1967) saw Austaralian people tentatively challenging the moral disciplines that shaped most of Australian society through the relaxing of conservative social values. It wsn't until the 1950's that youth culture in Australia publicly emvraced the the popular cultural influences of 1950's america and renounced the traditional bond with the Brittish colonial syatem that had sustained the developemt of Australian art and academia.

James dean and Marilyn Monroe celebration of delinquency and utopian thinking athat has allegedley radically transformed social relations that excluded practicaly anyone who was not white middle class reasonable man as defind in the legal system.

The social landscape in Australia became charged with an energy that willed a modern engagement with Aboriginal Australia and supported (certainly not unanimously but it can be said that there have been non Indigenous people all periods of post colonisation Australian history that did not support the decisions made and dominant positions in regards to decisions made regarding intercultural relations between Aboriginal people and the colony.

In the same way that freestyle swimming was once known as the australian crawl there are indigenous practices that have been appropriated by non Aboriginal australia in ways that have profoundly changed the way people have engaged with the environment that they live in.

Artists in contemporary society have the same ability of being able to create information that influences the way people think about issues that have been presented to them from different contexts such as politics or history.

The philosophy of this visual experience is that the human is not separate from the landscape – they are constantly shaping and interacting with each other. This perceptual shift allowed many people to understand the experience of the representation of the landscape by Aboriginal artists on their own terms. Aboriginal Art is one of the first times that non Aboriginal people have “seen” Aboriginal people in a purely Australian context

A mythology of the Australian continent existed in the imaginations of many cultures in Europe, the pacific and Asia. Bernard Smith in His work “European Visions” clearly charts the existence of the Antipodes in the philosophy and literature from the Greeks to the British and more.

Recognition of other international experiences by the Dutch, Spanish, Indonesian or Chinese explorers and their experiences prior to British colonisation have only recently been explored in greater depth by museums and cultural studies projects and are changing Australians perspective of its place in the international history of the world free from colonialist, Nationalist agendas that limit recognition of non dominant histories and perspectives.

Contemporary Australian art has embraced the addition of Aboriginal perspectives of things like landscape, social relations and local histories. Aboriginal art has also empowered Aboriginal people to communicate ideas with each other through visual experiences and not relying on the English language or a knowledge of the history of western art, this is the type of non verbal system with is more in tune with the Aboriginal oral histories which have survived the colonisation experience and provided a link for Modern Aboriginal people to there Traditional cultural histories.

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