Against Forgetting: Australian Artists' Engagements With Histories of Place
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Artistic investigations of place are often entwined with the attempt to retrieve and make sense of local histories; this attempt is most urgent when considering places with contested memories. Artists working in the multicultural and postcolonial Australia of today do so in a context in which several conflicting views of land, home, and history exist simultaneously, and where the nation’s popular memory is riddled with absences. Artists’ efforts to reconnect with or reconstruct vanished experiences of place can be viewed as a corrective to the persistent absentmindedness of mainstream Australia, which struggles to acknowledge the violence and politics of exclusion intrinsic to the settler colonial project. This article considers settler culture’s imperative to forget the colonial past in relation to the work of four contemporary artists who call for remembrance as a path to national healing. Their work suggests that creative modes may help nations with the difficult task of coming to terms with histories of trauma.
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