The next mission

Aboriginal Art Directory | 16.02.08

Author: Inga Clendinnen
News source: The Age

Inga Clendinnen writes in the Age about her book True Stories.

Quoted from the article:

Although I am Australian and a historian, I discovered the history of indigenous Australia only a decade ago. The stimulus was an invitation from the ABC to deliver the 1999 Boyer Lectures on a topic or theme to do with Australia. The choice was easy. I had come from the study of the Spanish conquest and colonisation of Mesoamerican Aztecs and Maya in the 16th century; now I could investigate what had happened here. The essay-lectures I wrote then have now been republished by Text under their old title, True Stories.

They express my wonder at the discovery of a remarkable people who for millennia prior to European contact managed to live, and to live well, in terrains ranging from rainforest through riverine abundance to the baffling austerities of the deserts. I sought to understand how knowledge was stored and communicated, how the webs of relationships fanning out across formidable distances were celebrated and sustained by magnificently orchestrated ceremony and play.

I began what is likely to be a life-long attempt to unravel the reverberating meanings elegantly crafted into "traditional" Aboriginal art, and also to enjoy the verve and political bite of modern indigenous artists. I also discovered just how good some Australian anthropologists were at retrieving and representing the patterns and practices of traditional life, like Donald Thomson in the 1930s among the warrior-hunters of Arnhem Land (Thomson's words and luminous photographs provided the essential archive for Rolf de Heer's Ten Canoes).

URL: http://www.theage.com.au/news/books/the-next-mission/2008/02/14/1202760489238.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1


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