Framing culture: Indigenous fine art in Far North Queensland

Neave, Coral (2013) Framing culture: Indigenous fine art in Far North Queensland. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The thesis arises from ethnographic research with artists and arts coordinators from various Indigenous communities and urban centres in Far North Queensland. Over an extended period, I gained access to some of their views and perspectives on the relationships that exist between artists, arts coordinators, gallerists and buyers of Indigenous fine art in Far North Queensland, and in metropolitan galleries in Melbourne, Victoria, and on the role of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair (CIAF) in the art network. While there is a large and growing body of knowledge and research on Australian Indigenous art there has been limited attention to the region of Far North Queensland. The approach to the research is based on the notion of art as a social mediator that brings people together for exchange and collaboration across lines of difference. I present an account of an emergent art and business practice that is conducted around the sites of remote Indigenous communities and in urban centres where Indigenous artists perform the labour of art production. The analysis is therefore not of an aesthetic discourse of artwork, but of the dialogue, spaces and means by which the participants in the arts practices interact, and whereby a cultural product – the Indigenous art of Far North Queensland – is produced and exchanged. Art cannot be produced, distributed and consumed without dialogue, collaboration and interdependency which, I argue, constitutes and effects intercultural exchange, and occurs at each stage in the trajectory of an art work from maker to market. I argue that the character and dynamics of intercultural exchange are dependent on the context or conditions of 'contact zones' and subject to the dynamics of friction (Tsing, 2005). The contact zones are the abstract spaces of intercultural negotiations, comprising; dialogue between people, which may occur anywhere; literal spaces of cultural coexistence such as galleries, museums and art fairs that are sites of production and consumption as well as conduits of cultural convergence; and the hybridized arts practices that emerge in community art centres in the processes of production and distribution of art. Within these contact zones I bring the gaze directly to the spatial and interpersonal dimensions of intercultural exchange, and through ethnographic description of the spaces, reflect on the dynamics of friction and trust, and the implications for the habitus of those involved in art production, distribution and consumption. The notion of habitus, an actor-centred concept devised by Pierre Bourdieu (1992) assists in understanding communication as relative to the field where it is enacted and embedded in specific social power and dominance relations, dynamics that are at the heart of my inquiry into the Indigenous art of Far North Queensland.

Item ID: 40585
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Aboriginal art; Aboriginal Australian art; art collectors; art galleries; art museums; cultural; Far North Queensland; fine art; Indigenous art; Indigenous Australian art; intercultural communication; intercultural negotiation; intercultural; North Queensland; paintings
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2013 Coral Neave.
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Some of the content in this thesis may be considered culturally sensitive to Indigenous people.

Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2015 02:19
FoR Codes: 19 STUDIES IN CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 1905 Visual Arts and Crafts > 190502 Fine Arts (incl Sculpture and Painting) @ 50%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169902 Studies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Society @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950104 The Creative Arts (incl. Graphics and Craft) @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970119 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of the Creative Arts and Writing @ 50%
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